Nearly 100 judges and lawyers participated in a program entitled “Domestic Violence and Court Practices: Views from the Executive Branch, the Bench and the Bar,” held at the Worcester Trial Court on Nov. 13 and sponsored by the Worcester County Bar Association. Headlining the event were Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, who provided opening remarks.
A panel discussion led by attorney John Shea focused on the varied perspectives of judges in the District, Juvenile and Probate and Family Courts and of attorneys representing the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts, and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office. Questions and comments from the audience contributed to a dynamic dialogue of the numerous legal, family and social issues involved with domestic violence.
Marshall described the major challenges facing the courts and the many trial court initiatives in place which are designed to assist judges, lawyers and litigants involved with domestic violence issues.
She also explained the impact of budget cuts on the court system amid the trend of increased 209A complaints during periods of economic downturns. Emphasizing the need to continue to provide access to justice, Marshall thanked the bar association for its efforts in the delivery of justice and the practitioners who provide pro bono legal services to help people in need.
Murray stressed the need for better coordination and communication among the health, legal and human service agencies in an effort to assist victims of domestic violence in Massachusetts.
The panel included Worcester District Court Judge David P. Despotopulos; Worcester Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Keating; Worcester Probate and Family Court Judge Denise L. Meagher; Michael Hussey, CPCS; Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.; and Christina L. Paradiso of Legal Assistance Corp. of Central Massachusetts. Worcester County Bar Association President Stephen R. Anderson and WCBA Bench/Bar Committee Co-Chair James D. O’Brien Jr. hosted the event.