MBA co-hosts Court Advocacy Day at the Statehouse

Issue March 2013 By Jennifer Rosinski

The Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association hosted a Court Advocacy Day at the Statehouse on Feb. 14 to urge our legislators to preserve the rule of law in Massachusetts by supporting the Massachusetts Trial Court's budget request for fiscal year 2014.

The Trial Court has asked for $589.5 million to maintain quality justice for Massachusetts citizens. This funding is needed to address critical operating needs and stabilize the court system which has seen devastating cuts in recent years.

"The MBA has been and will be a strong supporter of adequate funding for our state's third branch of government," MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. said. "Our message to the Legislature is clear and simple -- supporting the court's maintenance request of 589.5 million dollars in funding for fiscal year 2014 is essential, it is not a luxury, to provide basic services to the public and preserve access to justice for everyone in this commonwealth."

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland said 22 percent of the commonwealth's workforce reduction came from the judiciary despite having only nine percent of Massachusetts's state workers.

"The judiciary branch has suffered a disproportionate share of hardship," Ireland said. "That has had a dramatic impact on our ability to deliver timely justice."

Ireland also called on the Legislature to support a judicial salary increase. Massachusetts judges are ranked 48th in the nation for salaries when cost of living is adjusted, and have had no increase for the past seven years. "It is a matter of basic fairness and equity," Ireland said.

Employees of the Massachusetts Trial Court have continued to do exemplary work in spite of the budget constraints and workforce reductions, and they should be commended, said Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan.

Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence said the full $589.5 million in funding is necessary.

"We're struggling to sustain the belief in the rule of law in this society," Spence said.