Task force issues recommendations on hiring, promoting
The Supreme Judicial Court has reviewed the recommendations
presented in the "Action Plan for Hiring and Promotion of Court
Officers and Associate Court Officers," delivered to the Court in
late April, by the SJC's Task Force on Hiring in the Judicial
Branch, chaired by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
"We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of the task force,
under attorney Harshbarger's leadership, and thank them for these
thoughtful recommendations to strengthen our hiring practices,"
said Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "The report identifies best
practices that will allow us to increase transparency and public
confidence in the way we recruit and select candidates for these
The action plan outlines recommendations that the task force
believes will improve current procedures. They include implementing
best practices for attracting and employing highly qualified
individuals, restricting the use of recommendations until finalists
are selected, introducing annual performance evaluations, creating
a career path as a performance incentive, and centralizing
supervision of the hiring process.
"Court officers and assistant court officers provide a critical
public safety role in the court system," said Chief Justice for
Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan. "The guidance
provided by the task force will greatly assist our efforts to
improve hiring practices, once the fiscal situation allows lifting
of the hiring freeze. In the meantime, we can begin work on those
recommendations that set the stage for future hiring and affect
Last December, the SJC established the task force to
comprehensively review the hiring and promotion practices in the
judicial branch in the wake of the abuse in the Probation
Department documented in the report of Independent Counsel Paul
Ware. The justices charged the task force to "make recommendations
designed to ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in
which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion on
hiring and promotion." In February, the task force delivered its
final report with respect to the Probation Department.
Task force members now will continue work on their mandate by
undertaking reviews of the remaining parts of the judiciary, while
monitoring the transformation of probation. The task force members
are Scott Harshbarger, chair; Randy Chapman, Stephen Crosby, Kate Donovan, Ruth Ellen Fitch,
Michael Keating, Hon. James McHugh, Susan Prosnitz, Harry Spence
and Steven Wright.
Appeals Court amends standing order on petitions to the
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has amended its Standing Order
Governing Petitions to the Single Justice Pursuant to G. L. c. 231,
§ 118 (first paragraph) and a Standing Order Governing Motions to
Stay Filed Pursuant to Mass. R.A.P. 6.
These standing orders will require petitioners to file certain
documents that are essential to the single justice's screening of
both petitions for interlocutory review and motions to stay
judgments or the execution of sentences.
The Rule 6 standing order amendment clarifies that (1) its time
limit for a response applies to motions to stay execution of
sentence filed in the single justice session of the Appeals Court
prior to the entry of a direct or collateral appeal, and (2)
otherwise, the time limit stated in Mass.R.A.P. 6(b)(2)
The amendment includes instructions on the filing of impounded or
confidential material and a requirement that the petition or motion
not exceed five pages, exclusive of the 15-page memorandum of
Civil appeals pilot program approved for Appeals
The Massachusetts Appeals court has received approval to begin a
six-month pilot program requiring appellants to file docketing
statements in all civil appeals, effective June 1.
The docketing statement will provide the court with important
background information that will be useful not only when the case
is entered and screened, but also while it is under consideration.
The pilot program, in turn, will help the court to refine the
format of the form and to determine if any adjustments are
During the course of the pilot program, the docketing statement
will be posted on the Appeals Court website as a PDF form that will
have drop-down menus, calendars and text that will automatically
fill in certain information. Attorneys and litigants will be able
to complete and save the form and then file it by e-mail.
After reviewing comments, the court will not require a statement
of anticipated issues in child welfare appeals.
Appeals Court adopts electronic documentation,
Effective June 1, the Massachusetts Appeals Court is requiring
litigants represented by counsel to file with the Appeals Court an
electronic copy of certain documents, all of which typically are
filed after oral argument or the court's decision.
Such filings include Rule 16(l) letters, petitions for rehearing,
motions for attorney's fees, to stay or for immediate issuance of
the rescript, and any opposition to the foregoing.
Receipt of electronic copies of these documents will allow the
court to track and process them more reliably and efficiently. The
formatting requirements are designed to allow an automated transfer
of the document from the CD-ROM or e-mail to the court's document
management system, where it will be instantly available to the
justices and court personnel.
In addition, the standing order will aid the bar by reducing the
cost of providing multiple copies of certain motions and letters.
Finally, the experience that the court and the bar will gain from
dealing with electronically filed versions of the designated
documents will be helpful in thinking about and planning for
broader e-filing opportunities.
Also effective as of June 1, the Massachusetts Appeals Court will
permit attorneys and self-represented litigants to register to
receive only electronic notification of the court's actions, orders
and decisions, in lieu of paper, notice.
To register, attorneys and self-represented litigants must file a
signed consent form, which will be available on the Appeals Court's
website as a PDF form that can be filled, saved and e-mailed to the
clerk's office. The clerk's office will issue the electronic
notifications multiple times each day to registered attorneys and
self-represented litigants, while conserving its limited resources
and expenses by not printing and mailing duplicative paper