Bench and bar leaders gathered for a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, March 9.
Massachusetts Bar Association President Thomas M. Bond pledged the MBA’s support for the Massachusetts court system’s financial and IT needs at a meeting of bench and bar leaders conducted over Zoom on Wednesday, March 9.
With bar association leaders from across the commonwealth and chief justices and clerks from nearly all court departments in attendance, Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly S. Budd began the meeting by thanking the bar associations for their continuing support of the courts and their budgeting needs. She offered particular thanks for the bars’ efforts to keep the court system moving during the last two years of the pandemic.
Noting the increased emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion from bar associations, Budd said that the judiciary was also taking its own steps to improve diversity in the court system. She cited new quarterly meetings with department heads, and a successful new District Court pilot program in Brockton where an assistant district attorney has been reviewing criminal charges filed by police prior to their being filed with the clerk magistrate.
MBA President Bond spoke next and told Budd that her work to improve diversity in the court system has inspired the MBA’s own diversity efforts, including the increased numbers of people of color in MBA leadership positions and programs presented by the MBA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC).
Noting his past MBA experiences working with the Judicial Administration Section Council, Bond said his collaboration with judges has been one of the most rewarding parts of his career. He pledged to continue working with Trial Court leaders, including new Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Locke, who later spoke at the event about the steps taken by the Trial Court during the pandemic and ongoing efforts to improve the user experience.
Addressing the audience of court and bar leaders, Bond stressed the importance of advocating for the courts’ financial needs, including the $164 million IT Bond Bill, which would help fund widespread technological improvements across the court system. Trial Court Administrator John Bello and Chief Information Officer Steven Duncan addressed details later in the meeting, where they explained how the IT Bond Bill would lead to improvements in three areas: 1) digital courthouse and courtrooms, 2) a modern and secure judiciary, and 3) operations excellence.
Bond also encouraged his fellow bar presidents to advocate for the court’s budget and suggested they think of it as “the legal community’s budget,” because lawyers are the ones who regularly use the courts and its resources.
“The bench and bar need to work together to get the financing to make our courthouses safe and accessible for everyone, no matter who you are or where you practice, and we can’t do that without funds,” said Bond. “Pick up the phone, call your legislator, and ask them to support the legal community’s 2023 budget.”
Boston Bar Association President Deborah Manus also spoke at the meeting and assured judges that the BBA remains steadfast in its support of the judiciary.