Court and Community News

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022
SJC appoints Hon. Jeffrey A. Locke as chief justice of the Trial Court; U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman taking senior status; District Court vacancy open for applications; Probate and Family Court eFiling update; ABA launches Pro Bono Matters for Families Facing Deportation platform


SJC appoints Hon. Jeffrey A. Locke as chief justice of the Trial Court

The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) today announced the appointment of Hon. Jeffrey A. Locke as the new chief justice of the Trial Court pursuant to G.L. 211B, § 6, effective Jan. 19, 2022. 

Locke has been a Superior Court Judge since 2001. He succeeds Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, who is retiring on Jan. 18, 2022, after serving in the position since 2013. 
“The Justices are pleased to announce the appointment of Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke, who has served with distinction in the Superior Court for the past 20 years,” said SJC Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd. “He is the right person for these times, and we are grateful that he is willing to lend his talents to this role. Judge Locke’s experience, skills and dedication to the mission of the Trial Court will allow him, working with the Court Administrator, to effectively lead the Trial Court in this challenging period.”  

“We are profoundly grateful to Chief Justice Paula Carey for her passion and unflagging energy as Chief Justice of the Trial Court over the past eight years,” said Budd. “She worked tirelessly to improve access to justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who work in and use our courts and to shepherd the Trial Court through the pandemic with perseverance and determination.” 

The chief justice of the Trial Court is the policy and judicial head of the Trial Court, which includes the Boston Municipal, District, Housing, Juvenile, Land, Probate and Family, and Superior courts; the Office of the Commissioner of Probation; and the Office of Jury Commissioner. The chief justice of the Trial Court has authority over all matters of judicial policy, appoints the departmental chief justices, and oversees case flow management and the establishment of programs and procedures to continuously improve access to justice by all segments of the commonwealth's population. The chief justice partners with the court administrator to oversee the administration of the Trial Court, with its 385 judges, 6,300 staff and 95 courthouses. 

“I am honored to be appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the Trial Court,” said Locke. “Working with the many talented trial court managers, starting with Court Administrator John Bello and the dedicated Trial Court departmental chief justices, I will strive to address immediate challenges resulting from the pandemic and also build on improvements put in place by Chief Justice Carey.”    

Locke has served as chair of the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission since 2018. He was the regional administrative justice for criminal cases in Suffolk County from 2012 to 2015, and for all cases in Plymouth County from 2007 to 2011. He has served on several court committees, including the SJC Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure; the Superior Court Committee on Sentencing Best Practices; and the Trial Court Fiscal Task Force.

Prior to Locke’s appointment to the bench, he served as commissioner of the Department of Social Services from April 1999 to October 2001, initially in an interim capacity. He was district attorney in Norfolk County from 1997 to 1999, following eight years as an assistant U.S. attorney, where he was the deputy chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1994 to 1997. Prior to that, he worked in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, including three years as chief of the Public Protection Bureau.
Locke has taught trial practice at Boston College Law School since 2018, and previously taught at Northeastern School of Law. He received his law degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.  


U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman
taking senior status

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman has advised President Joe Biden that on July 1, 2022, he intends to retire from regular active service as a U.S. District Court judge and intends to continue to serve as a senior judge.

Hillman was nominated to the court on Nov. 30, 2011, serving as a U.S. District judge in the District of Massachusetts from 2012 to 2022. Hillman previously served as a U.S. magistrate judge from 2006–2012 and enjoyed 15 years of service on the state court bench. From 1998–2006, he served as a justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, and from 1991–1998, was an associate justice and presiding justice in the Gardner District Court and presiding justice in the Worcester District Court. He was formerly in private practice and also served as an assistant district attorney for Worcester County.

Throughout his long tenure on the state and federal bench, Hillman has been passionate about reducing recidivism and promoting public safety by improving outcomes for individuals with justice system involvement. In 2006, Hillman partnered with the U.S. Probation Office in Massachusetts to start the RESTART program (Reentry: Empowering Successful Todays and Responsible Tomorrows). RESTART is a voluntary reentry program designed to support individuals on probation or supervised release who face an elevated risk of recidivating. Participants are encouraged to set and achieve specific goals, attend relevant treatment and educational programs, and meet for a weekly court support session. The program was launched to provide additional structure and support for those in their first year of supervision, the period when re-offending is most likely.

Hillman’s family includes his wife Kay; children Zachary, Molly and Patrick; and three grandchildren.


District Court vacancy open for applications

The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) is currently accepting applications for the following District Court vacancies:

Hon. Cathleen Campbell
(Oct. 13, 2021)

Hon. William J. O’Grady
(Jan. 11, 2021)

The application deadline for both positions is Thursday, Feb. 17, at noon. Click here for application instructions and here to sign up for JNC notifications.


Probate and Family Court eFiling update

Change of Name for Adult and Minor is now available to eFIle. Helpful information on eFiling a Change of Name can be found at: Probate and Family Court eFiling: Change of Name

For more information on eFiling in the Probate and Family Court, go to eFiling in the Probate and Family Court


ABA launches Pro Bono Matters for Families Facing Deportation platform

Pro Bono Matters for Families Facing Deportation is an online platform that connects pro bono attorneys with volunteer opportunities to help families placed on the family group Dedicated Docket in 11 cities nationwide. 

The Dedicated Docket is an expedited docket for families in removal proceedings who have been placed in Alternatives to Detention. The goal of the Dedicated Docket is to process cases on an expedited time frame, meaning that pro bono representation is especially crucial in helping the families access counsel and protect their due process rights. 

The Pro Bono Matters for Families Facing Deportation platform — which is managed by the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, and was developed by SavvySuit — contains case cards with descriptions of volunteer opportunities from legal service providers in the 11 Dedicated Docket cities. Click on a case card that interests you to see how you can help a family in need.