News from the Courts

Issue September/October 2017

Adoption of amendments to Local Rule 25.0, Local Rule 11.0 and IOP VI

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit hereby provides notice that it has adopted amendments to Local Rule 25.0, Local Rule 11.0 and Internal Operating Procedure VI. The effective date of the amendments is August 21, 2017. Amended Local Rule 25.0 will supersede the court's September 14, 2009, Administrative Order Regarding Case Management/Electronic Case Files System, which will no longer be in effect as of August 21, 2017. Visit http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/to view Local Rule 25.0, Local Rule 11.0 and Internal Operating Procedure VI, with the amendments incorporated.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants to succeed retiring Justice Geraldine Hines as co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants will succeed retiring Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Geraldine Hines as co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. Chief Justice Gants had previously co-chaired the commission from 2010 to 2015.

The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission was established by order of the Supreme Judicial Court to provide leadership, vision and coordination in the search for equal justice for all persons in the commonwealth. The commission's membership includes representatives from the court system, legal aid organizations, bar associations, social service agencies, the private bar, law schools, businesses, and clients, working together to promote equal access to justice.

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Hines is stepping down after having served on the bench for 16 years, first on the Superior Court and then on the Appeals Court before she was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in 2014 by Gov. Deval Patrick. Before becoming a judge, Justice Hines practiced as an attorney for three decades, during which she litigated many civil rights cases.

Trial Court issues new child support guidelines

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has announced the promulgation of revised child support guidelines to be effective on September 15, based on a comprehensive review by the 2016-17 Child Support Guidelines Task Force. The task force that conducted the review, which is required every four years, was chaired by Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez.

The child support guidelines are used by Trial Court judges in setting orders for child support, in deciding whether to approve agreements for child support, and in deciding cases that are before the court to modify existing orders. The task force recommended a number of clarifications and changes. Some are minor, while others represent new or modified provisions. The most significant include:

  • Increasing the minimum support order to $25 per week
  • Removing the parenting time/child support calculation that was inserted into the 2013 guidelines
  • Including a capped adjustment in the child support calculation for child care and health care costs
  • Addressing child support for children between the ages of 18 and 23
  • Including provisions related to parental contribution to post-secondary educational expenses

Extensive information about all of the provisions of the child support guidelines can be found in the commentary that is included in the guidelines. Additional information on the quadrennial review of the child support guidelines can be found on the court website at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/selfhelp/family.

In addition to Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Ordoñez, the 2016-17 task force included: Rachel B. Biscardi, Esq.; Jennifer Clapp, Esq.; Associate Justice Kevin R. Connelly; Hon. Shawn Dooley for the Ninth Norfolk District; Jonathan E. Fields, Esq.; Fern Frolin, Esq.; Ruth J. Liberman; Linda Medonis, Esq.; Dolores E. O'Neill, Esq.; Arron Pridgeon; James J. Richards, Esq.; and Michelle A. Yee, Esq. The economic consultants for this task force were Mark Sarro, Ph.D. and R. Mark Rogers. The task force was supported by Project Manager Denise M. Fitzgerald, Esq.; Christine Yurgelun, Esq.; and Robert Dunphy, Jr., Esq.