Court Leaders Speak at Worcester Court Service Center Ceremony
BOSTON, MA -- At a ceremony at the Worcester Trial Court Complex today, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence delivered remarks recognizing the opening of the Worcester Court Service Center.
"Court Service Centers are the single most important resource to help the unrepresented learn how to navigate our court system," said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants.
Over the past two years, the Trial Court has opened six Court Service Centers throughout the state. Court Service Centers provide resources to help self-represented litigants better understand and navigate the court system. The Worcester Court Service Center is the fourth to open this year.
"Court Service Centers are designed and do take the mystery out of the process and assist litigants as they prepare to file their paperwork and prepare to present their case in a courtroom," said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey. "The results in the courtroom are extraordinary and the benefits are measureable throughout the system. Parties are better prepared, paperwork is clear and comprehensible, filings are relevant."
The Worcester Court Service Center has served over 7,000 visitors to date in 22 different languages since it began in September 2015. The Court Service Center in Worcester has welcomed 38 volunteers from the community, largely from Assumption College and Ana Maria College, to assist visitors.
"Court Service Centers are part of a broader solution to address the needs of a growing number of self-represented litigants, concentrated in the Probate & Family and Housing Court Departments," said Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence. He noted that a significant majority of Court Service Centers are assisting litigants with family matters. "When they know what to expect when they get into the courtroom, the stress and tension of family disputes is reduced, improving the process for litigants, judges, court staff and security."
The other five Court Service Centers operate out of the following courthouses: Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston; Franklin County Courthouse in Greenfield; Fenton Judicial Center in Lawrence; George N. Covett Courthouse in Brockton; and the Springfield Hall of Justice. From May 2014 through September 30, 2016, nearly 50,000 visitors have used Court Service Centers throughout the state.
Court Service Centers are staffed by attorneys employed by the Trial Court, with assistance from Trial Court law librarians, volunteer pro bono attorneys, college and law school students, and community volunteers. The Centers offer important resources to self-represented litigants and attorneys, including assistance with court forms, as well as access to public computers and interpreter services. The Court Service Centers also provide information about community resources, legal assistance programs, and social service agencies.
In April 2016, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association presented the Trial Court with the Yvette C. Mendez Award in recognition of the role Court Service Centers have played in increasing access to justice for self-represented litigants.