News from the Courts

Issue March 2015

Chief Justice Rapoza announces retirement

Appeals Court Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza has announced he will retire from the Massachusetts Appeals Court on June 30, 2015. Rapoza was first appointed to the bench in 1992 by Gov. William Weld and has served as a trial judge on the Fall River District Court and the Massachusetts Superior Court.

In 1998, Rapoza was appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court and in 2006 was named chief justice of the court.
Rapoza is a past recipient of the MBA President's Award (2011), which is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work of the MBA, to the preservation of MBA values, to the success of MBA initiatives and to the promotion of MBA leadership roles within the legal community in Massachusetts.

"Chief Justice Rapoza has been an outstanding leader for the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Under his helm, the Appeals Court brought sessions to the four corners of the state, making our justice system open and transparent to the public and instilling confidence in the judiciary," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. "We applaud Chief Justice Rapoza, whose commitment to justice included serving as an international expert to developing countries on behalf of the United Nations. His footprint in the judicial arena has been felt throughout the world."

Judge William Hillman to retire, bankruptcy merit selection panel appointed

Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has announced the formation of a Bankruptcy Merit Selection Panel to screen and review the qualifications of applicants for a forthcoming vacant bankruptcy judgeship in Worcester.

The Hon. William C. Hillman, who has served as a bankruptcy judge in the District of Massachusetts in Boston since 1991, has announced his retirement, effective Aug. 14, 2015. The First Circuit Judicial Council has approved Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Melvin S. Hoffman's request to change his duty station from Worcester to Boston, also effective on Aug. 14, 2015. Consequently, the bankruptcy judgeship vacancy to be filled will occur in Worcester.

The court is seeking attorneys with demonstrated excellence in the practice of bankruptcy law and/or commercial litigation. Interested applicants may obtain an application from the Circuit Executive's Office, from the Bankruptcy Court Clerk for the District of Massachusetts or by accessing the Court of Appeals' website at Persons interested in applying for this position should submit seven copies of their application to: Susan J. Goldberg, Circuit Executive, Office of the Circuit Executive, John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Suite 3700, Boston, MA 02210. Applications are to be postmarked by Monday, March 16, 2015.

Reminder: MA Trial Court Electronic Case Access

Massachusetts attorneys can research civil, summary process and small claims cases online through Massachusetts Trial Court electronic case access at

Baker establishes Judicial Nominating Commission; Appeals Court vacancies posted

Gov. Charlie Baker has signed Executive Order 558 establishing the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), a 21-member, statewide body to screen applications for judicial and clerk-magistrate positions. He also announced that the Baker-Polito Administration is currently accepting applications for individuals seeking to serve on the JNC.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are recruiting a team of commissioners to serve on the JNC through the JNC website,

After the members of the commission have been selected, the JNC will immediately begin work on reviewing applications for open judicial positions.

The JNC has posted two Appeals Court vacancies as the first openings they are accepting applications for, both with an application deadline of March 18, 2015.

Appeals Court:

The Honorable Joseph A. Grasso, Jr., Associate Justice (Jan. 9, 2015)
The Honorable R. Malcolm Graham, Associate Justice (Feb. 22, 2015)

Applications for the new JNC and current judicial openings are available at

Trial Court seeks public comments on proposed BMC and District Court Standing Order 1-15

The Chief Justice of the Trial Court invites comments on the proposed Standing Order 1-15 on Verification of Defendant's Address for Claims Incurred in Trade or Commerce or Pursuing Assigned Debt.

This new standing order would expand the current requirements for address verification in Small Claims R. 2(b) to all Boston Municipal Court and District Court regular civil cases for claims incurred in trade or commerce or pursuing assigned debt. This order is intended to introduce uniformity and to reduce the number of default judgments the courts must later vacate because service was made to an improper address.

The chief justice welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised and will determine whether to approve the proposed standing orders after reviewing the comments submitted.

Pasquarello appointed director of the Electronic Monitoring Program

Massachusetts Commissioner of Probation Edward J. Dolan has appointed Thomas Pasquarello as the new statewide manager of the Electronic Monitoring Center. Pasquarello started his new position at the center on March 2.

The Monitoring Center in Clinton is the headquarters for the Massachusetts Probation Service's Electronic Monitoring (ELMO) Program. The center is a 365-day, 24-hour operation which employs a 40-member staff. The employees closely monitor the whereabouts of 3,000 probationers and parolees who are sentenced to wear the GPS bracelet.

Pasquarello, formerly the Chief of Police in Somerville, brings to the position more than 30 years of municipal and federal law enforcement experience.

Among Pasquarello's duties as the statewide manager of ELMO are the development and implementation of ELMO Center operation policies and practices, management of ELMO Center operations and oversight of staff, ensuring compliance with subpoenas for records and testimony by ELMO staff and monitoring the issuance of warrants by the on-call staff.

SJC amends Rule 1 and Rule 6 of the Commission on Judicial Conduct; Mass. R. Civ. P. 45; Mass. R. Crim. P. 12

The Supreme Judicial Court has recently announced amendments to the following rules:

  • Rule 1 and Rule 6 of the Commission on Judicial Conduct: On Jan. 29, 2015, the SJC adopted amendments to Rules 1 and 6 of the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The amendments became effective on March 1, 2015. The amendment to Rule 1 permits the Commission to adopt a broader definition of the term "complainant," for purposes of its rules. The amendments to Rule 6 reflect the replacement of the position of Chief Justice for Administration and Management with the position of Chief Justice of the Trial Court, pursuant to M.G.L. c.93, sec. 137.
  • Mass. R. Civ. P. 45: Through amendments to Rule 45, Massachusetts adopted the practice of a "documents only" subpoena directed to a non-party, a practice that has existed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure since 1991. With the adoption of a documents only subpoena as of the effective date of April 1, 2015, there is no longer a need in Massachusetts to use deposition practice in regard to a non-party for the sole purpose of document production.
  • Mass. R. Crim. P. 12: As the title of Rule 12 suggests (Pleas and Plea Agreements), the 2015 revision of the rule resulted in a more carefully delineated and somewhat expanded role for plea agreements in the process of a judge's consideration and acceptance of a proffered guilty plea. The amendments, resulting from proposals of the Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, will become effective on May 11, 2015.