State Judicial Leaders Speak at Event Announcing Boston Court Service Center
BOSTON, MA – In an effort to help address the problem of a growing number of self-represented litigants in the state, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence today spoke at an event announcing the new Boston Court Service Center in the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse.
"As budgets for legal aid have been drastically cut in recent years, more people are representing themselves in court -- from fighting foreclosures and tenant evictions to probate matters involving divorce and child custody issues," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Gants said. "Court Service Centers are an effective way to address the growing needs of self-represented litigants who need help understanding how to navigate the court system, but who are unable to get legal aid."
Led by a manager who is an attorney, Court Service Centers assist members of the public and people representing themselves in court by helping them understand basic legal terms, the first steps of filing a legal proceeding, and how to fill out required court forms. The centers also offer access to public computers and workstations, interpreter services, and connect people in need with city and state services. The Boston Court Service Center has helped over 2,200 people since it opened in June.
"Court can be an anxiety provoking place," Trial Court Chief Justice Carey said. "Court Service Centers are designed to take the mystery out of the process. In the short time that the Court Service Centers have been operating in Boston and Greenfield, we've already seen the positive impact they've had on the people we serve."
"Court Service Centers reflect the special character of the communities they serve, and the individual realities of those communities," Trial Court Administrator Spence said. "They are of great service to both self-represented litigants and the courts."
The Boston Court Service Center is one of two currently operating, with the other in the Franklin County Justice Center in Greenfield. The centers are a key part of the Trial Court's efforts to increase the public’s understanding of and accessibility to the court system. The court plans to add four additional Court Service Centers across the state in the coming year, with the goal of having a center in each of the state's 15 largest courthouses in the next three years, which currently serve half the litigants in the Commonwealth.
Funded largely by the judiciary's budget, Rosie's Place in Boston provided an initial grant to fund the Boston Court Service Center, and continues to provide support to it. Artwork for the center was provided by James P. Timilty Middle School students.