Trial Court faces reduction in funding; Senate passes juvenile justice reform bill

Issue July/August 2016

In Gov. Charlie Baker's fiscal year 2017 budget, the Trial Court was left with a $6.7 million reduction in funding from the Legislature's final budget. As the Legislature begins to take up veto overrides, the Massachusetts Bar Association will continue to fight for legislative overrides of the governor's vetoes of Trial Court line items.

Current funding for fiscal year 2017 of $633 million does not support current staffing levels and may likely result in reduced public hours in clerk's and registrar's offices, increased caseloads for probation officers, security personnel shortages, and a delay of the   ongoing effort to digitize paper court records.

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was spared a reduction and is funded at $18 million for fiscal year 2017, a $1 million increase over fiscal year 2016.

Juvenile justice reform bill

In legislation passed by the Senate the second week of July, juvenile records of misdemeanors would be expunged. The legislation would also create a parent/child privilege, exclude young children (7-10 years old) from delinquency proceedings and codify the Juvenile Court's practice of banning indiscriminate shackling, among other provisions. The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives. To read the legislation, please visit malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S2417.