Court closure plan moves forward
On Aug. 10, Chief Justice for Administration and Management
Robert A. Mulligan filed a statutorily required report on court
relocations with the Legislature. The report outlines the work of
the Court Relocation Committee and the fiscal climate of the Trial
Court that necessitates court closings.
The Trial Court's fiscal 2012 appropriation is $519.9 million,
down from $605 million in fiscal 2009. The Trial Court has made
extensive cost-saving moves since the fiscal crisis began,
including implementing a hiring freeze in 2007 that has resulted in
the loss of more than 1,100 staff.
Supreme Judicial Court launches Pro Bono Recognition
The Supreme Judicial Court has created the Pro Bono Recognition
Program for lawyers who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to
pro bono work by voluntarily assisting vulnerable people of limited
means with their legal issues.
Each year, the program will honor law firms, solo practitioners,
in-house corporate counsel offices, government attorneys' offices,
nonprofit organizations and law school faculties that certify they
have met the program criteria by providing significant pro bono
"We think it is important to recognize those lawyers, firms and
organizations which have gone beyond the call of duty to help
individuals and families of limited means confront their urgent
legal issues," said SJC Justice Francis X. Spina, who chairs the
SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, which will
administer the program. "The lawyers who volunteer to represent
these often desperate citizens have done so at a time when the
economic pressures on their own practices have never been
Criteria for the program, as well as other information, can be
found on the SJC website. Organizations that submit 2010 certification forms by Sept. 15,
2011, will be invited to send a representative to the October 2011
The need for pro bono legal services is critical, in part,
because of the increased numbers of pro se litigants in
Massachusetts courts and because of the precipitous decline in
recent years of Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) funding,
which pays for civil legal services for people in need. Rule 6.1 of
the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Responsibility sets forth a
goal for Massachusetts lawyers to devote 25 hours per year to the
pro bono representation of persons of limited means.
The Access to Justice Commission, co-chaired by SJC Justice
Ralph D. Gants, recommended to the justices that a pro bono
commitment recognition program be established in coordination with
the Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.
"With so many in need of legal advice and services, it is
important to recognize the many attorneys who have followed Louis
Brandeis' extraordinary example in generously contributing their
time to ensure that the problems of those who cannot afford counsel
are resolved promptly and fairly," Gants said.
The SJC will acknowledge the attorneys, law firms and
organizations that are certified for the recognition program with a
letter of appreciation for their commitment to pro bono legal work.
The names will be listed on the SJC website and the attorneys, law
firms and organizations will be honored each year at a special
event at the John Adams