The Supreme Judicial Court hosted new legislators in the main courtroom of the John Adams Courthouse, where they heard welcoming remarks by Chief Justice Gants, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, and Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Chief Justice Paula Carey provided an overview of the strategic plan and specialty courts. Chief Carey also spoke about the importance of working together with the Executive and Legislative branches to achieve many of the goals outlined in the plan.
First Justice Thomas Horgan of the Boston Municipal Court’s (BMC) Central Division and President of the Massachusetts Judges Conference urged legislators to see firsthand how the trial courts function, saying “To be an effective legislator, you have to know what’s going on in your courts…these are your constituents.”
First Justice Dina Fein of the Housing Court’s Western Division described access to justice issues the courts are working to address—namely, how to best serve historically underserved populations: people with limited English proficiency and those with restricted incomes, who often must represent themselves in court because they can’t afford to hire an attorney. Judge Fein cited recent statistics on self-represented litigants and spoke about the 6,000-plus people who have already visited the Court Service Centers in Greenfield and Boston.
Next to speak was Court Administrator Harry Spence, who described the potentially devastating impact the Governor’s proposed budget would have on the judicial branch. “If the delivery of justice is to continue...we need support from the Legislature,” he said.
Before adjourning to tour the Supreme Judicial Court’s Consultation Room and the Thorndike Library, Chief Gants asked the group to consider: “What kind of society would we be if we didn’t give priority to justice…one that cannot maintain a healthy and functioning court system?”