News from the courts

Issue February 2011

Duffly confirmed to SJC; MBA praises council's decision

The Governor's Council on Jan. 26 confirmed Gov. Deval Patrick's nomination of Fernande R.V. Duffly to serve as an associate justice to the Supreme Judicial Court. The appointment is the time an Asian-American will serve on the state's highest court.

Duffly fills the open seat from the retirement of former Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and the elevation of Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland, who was sworn in as chief justice on Dec. 20.

"The Massachusetts Bar Association is delighted to congratulate Justice Duffly on her appointment to the SJC. Her detailed experience as a Probate and Family Court judge makes her well-equipped to grapple with the complex issues facing many families today, including custody and support issues revolving around the changing nature of family structures," said MBA President Denise Squillante, who operates a mainly family law practice in Fall River.

"Justice Duffly's unique experience is certain to add a new dimension to the makeup of the state's highest court," Squillante said.

Prior to her appointment, Duffly was an associate justice with the Appeals Court for more than a decade. Previously, she served as an associate justice with the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court for eight years.

Born in Indonesia to a Chinese mother and Dutch father, Duffly has committed to help increase the number of minority lawyers, law firm partners and judges. She has also worked to ensure that minorities have adequate access to justice in the court system.

Housing Court CJ Steven D. Pierce reappointed

Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan has announced the reappointment of Housing Court Chief Justice Steven D. Pierce for a five-year term. Pierce, who has served on the Housing Court since 2003, was appointed chief justice in 2006. He previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency.

Mulligan noted that the Housing Court was the first Trial Court department to introduce the full version of the MassCourts computer system in multiple locations, and through its case management efforts, has reduced the number of aged cases from over 21,000 at the end of 2006 to 1,741 at the end of 2009.

Probate and Family Court introduces bilingual short form financial statement

In response to the high percentage of bilingual, self-represented litigants in many of its 14 divisions, the Probate and Family Court announced on Dec. 31, 2010, that it has introduced Spanish and Portuguese versions of its Short Form Financial Statement (CJD-301s), one of the most widely used Probate and Family Court forms.

Go to to access the forms. The forms must be printed with black ink on pink paper, pursuant to Uniform Probate Court Practice XXXIII. The online version is currently available in a "print only" format, while a "fillable" version is being developed for posting in the near future.