News from the Courts

Issue February 2012


The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Thomas G. Ambrosino, the former mayor of Revere, as its executive director, effective Jan. 11.

Ambrosino implements the policies set by the SJC's justices and directs the daily administration of the Court. He also assists the justices in implementing recent court management reforms.

Ambrosino has management, legal, financial and personnel experience. As mayor of Revere from 2000 to the end of 2011, he improved the city's fiscal health by raising its bond rating and increasing reserves, implementing a major capital improvement campaign, and negotiating and concluding multiple municipal collective bargaining agreements. He was a sole practitioner in Revere and a litigation associate at Palmer & Dodge in Boston.

A native and current resident of Revere, he graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and summa cum laude from Boston University.

His civic work since 2008 includes serving on the executive committee of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the board of the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership, a nonprofit advocate for afterschool opportunities for public school children.

"Tom has outstanding skills and an impressive history in building broad-based support among diverse constituents. The justices look forward to working with him in the challenging years ahead," said SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland.

Ambrosino succeeds Clifford Allen, the reporter of decisions for the appellate courts.


The Massachusetts Trial Court opened the 146,000-square-foot building Taunton Trial Court at a special event for employees, local officials and area residents on Dec. 16. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert Cordy were among the speakers in the program hosted by Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan.

Taunton District Court, Bristol County Juvenile Court and Probate and Family Court, and Southeast Housing Court began operations in the new court building in June. The courthouse features eight courtrooms, modern information technology and digital recording capability, handicapped access, secure detention areas, a jury pool and the district attorney's office.

The building was designed by Leers Weinzapfel and constructed by Daniel O'Connell's Sons under the direction of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the Massachusetts Trial Court.


A 195,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center opened Dec. 12 with a phased-in relocation of the Essex County Superior Court, Salem District Court, Essex County Juvenile Court and Northeast Housing Court. The Essex County District Attorney's Office is also in the building. The Essex County Law Library was scheduled to open in January in the historic, former First Baptist Church building of the complex.

The new courthouse features 11 courtrooms, modern information technology and digital recording capability, handicapped accessibility and secure detention areas.?The judicial center was designed by Goody Clancy Architects and constructed by Daniel O'Connell's Sons under the direction of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the Massachusetts Trial Court.


The Supreme Judicial Court announced on Jan. 5 that it had endorsed the recommendations in the final report of the Task Force on Hiring in the Judicial Branch, which made "recommendations designed to ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion in hiring and promotion."

The 10-member task force, which was formed Nov. 18, 2010, was chaired by Scott Harshbarger, former Massachusetts attorney general. It recommended a full commitment from the top down to merit-based hiring and promotion throughout the court system, based on seven well-known elements designed to recruit and cultivate a talented, high-quality workforce.

To achieve success, the task force emphasizes the need for continuous training and performance reviews and a supportive culture in which all employees are united in common goals and an understanding of the system's mission and shared values.

"A well trained, highly motivated work force is critical to fulfilling our constitutional mission," said SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "The timing of their work perfectly complements our efforts to recruit a court administrator and to engage in an intensive strategic planning initiative aimed at identifying and assessing the court system's capital, technological and human resources needs of the future."

The task force's first two reports focused on hiring and promotion in the Probation Department and the critical situation that led the court to create the task force. The subsequent reports dealt with hiring and promotion of court officers, administrative personnel and employees of the offices of the appointed and elected clerks, registers and land court recorder.