This Standing Order is promulgated by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court pursuant to G. L. c. 211B, Section 9 and shall constitute authorization by law as referenced in Rule 2.9 (A)(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct (effective January 1, 2016).

For purposes of this Order: 

Specialty Court means a specifically designated court session that focuses on individuals with underlying medical, mental health, substance abuse, or other issues that contribute to the reasons such individuals are before the courts. Specialty court shall also mean Veterans Treatment Court and Homelessness Court. Specialty court sessions integrate treatment and services with judicial case oversight and intensive court supervision. Examples include drug courts, mental health courts, veterans’ courts, and tenancy preservation programs. 

A Staffing shall refer to a regularly scheduled, informal conference not occurring in open court, the purpose of which is to permit the presiding judge and others, including counsel, to discuss a participant’s progress in the specialty court, treatment recommendations, or responses to participant compliance issues. 

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED: 

A judge presiding over a specialty court shall have the authority to initiate, permit or otherwise consider ex parte communications about defendants, juveniles or probationers with members of the specialty court team at a staffing or by written documents provided to all members of the specialty court team. The purpose of this authority is to allow judges in their role in presiding over specialty court sessions, and only in that capacity, to assume a more interactive role with parties, treatment providers, probation officers, social workers and others, than Rule 2.9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct would otherwise permit.

January 7, 2016