News from the Courts

Issue July 2013

Probate and Family Court now offers child support help online

The Probate and Family Court, the Massachusetts Justice Project and collaborators have announced the availability of a new online resource that will help self-represented litigants more easily complete court forms in child support cases. The other partners are the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, South Coastal Counties Legal Services Inc. and the Trial Court Access to Justice Initiative.

With the help of a Technology Initiative Grant from the Legal Services Corporation, the Massachusetts Justice Project, in collaboration with the Probate and Family Court and the other partners, has created a series of free online interviews that help self-represented litigants accurately complete the court forms needed to file cases seeking establishment, enforcement or modification of a child support order or an answer to any of these complaints.

The interviews, supporting educational videos and written content can be accessed at Users proceed through a series of questions, and the answers to the questions are used to prepare forms and instructions. A Spanish translation of these interviews will be available this summer.

Proposed amendments to Rule 43 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure invites comments on proposed amendments to Rule 43 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure. The committee undertook its review of Rule 43 as a result of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Vizcaino v. Commonwealth, 462 Mass. 266 (2012). The committee unanimously recommends that Rule 43 be clarified to minimize confusion concerning when and how a judge may impose summary punishment for criminal contempt or, alternatively, refer an alleged contemnor for prosecution by complaint or indictment under Rule 44. To view the proposed amendments, visit

The committee welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised and will make recommendations to the Supreme Judicial Court after reviewing the comments submitted.