Supreme Judicial Court Task Force Issues Recommendations
on Court Officer Hiring and Promotion
The Supreme Judicial Court has reviewed the recommendations presented in the "Action Plan for Hiring and Promotion of Court Officers and Associate Court Officers," delivered to the Court last week, by the SJC's Task Force on Hiring in the Judicial Branch, chaired by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
"We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Task Force, under Attorney Harshbarger's leadership, and thank them for these thoughtful recommendations to strengthen our hiring practices," said Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "The report identifies best practices that will allow us to increase transparency and public confidence in the way we recruit and select candidates for these key positions."
The Action Plan outlines recommendations that the Task Force believes will improve current procedures. They include implementing best practices for attracting and employing highly qualified individuals, restricting the use of recommendations until finalists are selected, introducing annual performance evaluations, creating a career path as a performance incentive, and centralizing supervision of the hiring process.
"Court Officers and Associate Court Officers provide a critical public safety role in the court system," said Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan. "The guidance provided by the Task Force will greatly assist our efforts to improve hiring practices, once the fiscal situation allows lifting of the hiring freeze. In the meantime, we can begin work on those recommendations that set the stage for future hiring and affect current staff."
Last December the Supreme Judicial Court established the Task Force to undertake a comprehensive review of the hiring and promotion practices in the Judicial Branch in the wake of the abuse in the hiring and promotion practices of the Probation Department documented in the report of Independent Counsel Paul Ware. The Justices charged the Task Force to "make recommendations designed to ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion on hiring and promotion." In February, the Task Force delivered its final report with respect to the Probation Department.
Task Force members now will continue work on their mandate by undertaking reviews of the remaining parts of the judiciary, while monitoring the transformation of probation. The Task Force members are Scott Harshbarger, Chair; Randy Chapman, Stephen Crosby, Kate Donovan, Ruth Ellen Fitch, Michael Keating, Hon. James McHugh, Susan Prosnitz, Harry Spence, and Steven Wright.
Click here to read the Action Plan for Hiring and Promotion of Court Officers and Associate Court Officers