SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT REAPPOINTS CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERT A. MULLIGAN AS CHIEF JUSTICE FOR ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT
Boston, MA -The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court today announced the reappointment of Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan as the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court. The reappointment is for a five-year term, effective October 1, 2008. Chief Justice Mulligan was first appointed Chief Justice for Administration and Management in 2003.
"All who serve in the judiciary can be proud of the marked progress that we have made in the past five years," said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall. "Chief Justice Mulligan's vigorous leadership and impressive record of accomplishments in management reform have produced transformational change throughout the operations of the Trial Court. We are committed to maintaining and strengthening those reforms, to soliciting the views of those most directly affected, and to broadening the benefits of a culture of high performance throughout the court system. Our goal remains to become a national model of excellence in every respect of judicial administration."
In announcing the reappointment of Chief Justice Mulligan, Chief Justice Marshall emphasized that, in addition to sustaining and improving the management reforms underway, there will be a new focus on other major challenges facing the Trial Court in fulfilling its obligation to provide access to justice for all, including the challenges presented by the increasing number of litigants who are not represented by counsel or not proficient in the use of the English language.
"Meeting these challenges will be among the important priorities for Chief Justice Mulligan over the next five years. We both recognize that continued progress will require an unprecedented level of collaboration within the judicial branch, and with the other branches of government," said Chief Justice Marshall. "I am confident that Chief Justice Mulligan is prepared to meet these challenges with energy and resolve, just as he has tackled the significant administrative challenges identified at the beginning of his first term as Chief Justice for Administration and Management."
Before reaching their decision to appoint Chief Justice Mulligan to a second term, the Justices sought and received comments from, among others, the Chief Justices of the seven trial court departments, trial judges, clerks, clerk-magistrates, registers of probate, the probation department judicial personnel, attorneys, bar associations, the Court Management Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Judges Conference, and members of the Executive and Legislative branches.
"I am deeply honored to be given this opportunity by the Supreme Judicial Court to continue to lead the Massachusetts Trial Court," said Chief Justice Mulligan. "Working with the Chief Justices of the Trial Court departments and through the perseverance of trial judges and judicial personnel across this Commonwealth, we have implemented challenging new management initiatives, which have brought about a profound change in the culture of the Trial Court. As we move forward, I am committed to open communications with those within and without the judicial branch, including the Executive and Legislative branches, to ensure continued progress and improvement in the management of the Trial Court's business, and to explore more effective ways in which my office can support judges and judicial staff who dispense justice every day."
Since the Visiting Committee on Management in the Courts issued its call for radical changes in court management in 2003, Chief Justice Mulligan has focused his goals on its major recommendations: new leadership norms and structures; a culture of high performance; and accountability and discipline in resource allocation and use.
Among Chief Justice Mulligan's successful initiatives in the Trial Court during the past five years are the following:
- MassCourts - a comprehensive web-based case management system being implemented in every Trial Court department. MassCourts creates a uniform system to facilitate linkages and improve the exchange of information with external agencies from law enforcement to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to the Board of Bar Overseers. Full implementation will facilitate the collection of data and allow more precise analysis and efficient processing of court business in every Trial Court department.
- Court Staffing Model – a case-weighted guide to assess critical personnel needs and objective allocation of resources in the Trial Court. Staffing models are updated annually to reflect changing functions and workloads.
- Time Standards – the development of standard time frames for every type of criminal and civil case in every Trial Court department. The time standards are based on case complexity and set time frames from filing to disposition, with specific benchmarks for key decision points.
- Metrics – benchmark measurements to assess timeliness and expeditious case processing in concert with time standards. The Trial Court adopted four measures of management designed by the National Center for State Courts: clearance rate, time to disposition, age of pending caseload and trial date certainty.
- Courthouse Construction and Renovation – Five major courthouse construction projects have been completed since 2004. A new state-of-the-art Worcester Trial Court, the largest courthouse in the state, opened last year. The modern Plymouth Trial Court, which also houses five Trial Court departments, opened in 2007. Major renovations in Newton, the Suffolk County Courthouse and the Brooke Courthouse were completed in 2004 and 2005. Current projects include courthouses for Fall River, Salem, Taunton and Lowell.
- Access and Fairness Survey – Another measurement that obtains opinions from all court users on 16 questions related to their experience in court. An interim report was compiled to reflect the results of more than 3,000 surveys collected. By September, 6,600 court users had been surveyed in more than fifty courthouses across the Commonwealth.
In the next five years Chief Justice Mulligan will explore ways to maintain and strengthen the management changes already underway, while bringing a new focus to the multiplicity of initiatives and programs already ongoing across the judicial system to improve the access to justice for all. Full implementation of MassCourts throughout every Trial Court Department will assist in those initiatives.
Chief Justice Mulligan brings to his position impressive credentials as a judge, lawyer, and administrator. First appointed to the Boston Municipal Court in 1980, he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Superior Court in 1982, and became the Chief Justice of that Department in 1994. Prior to that he served as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant United States Attorney, and as Chair of the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission. A nationally recognized authority on judicial administration, Chief Justice Mulligan was awarded the 2008 Distinguished Service Award by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Presented annually to a person who has made longstanding contributions to improving the justice system, Chief Justice Mulligan was recognized for his "impressive abilities not only as a jurist, but as an innovative court manager."
The Chief Justice for Administration and Management manages and administers seven Trial Court departments – Boston Municipal Court, District Court, Housing Court, Juvenile Court, Land Court, Probate and Family Court, Superior Court – and has supervisory authority over the Office of the Commissioner of Probation and the Office of the Jury Commissioner. Chief Justice Mulligan's responsibilities include the daily management of all Trial Court operations, as well as oversight of the fiscal, legal, planning and development, security, human resources, and education functions of the Administrative Office of the Trial Court. The Administrative Office of the Trial Court, comprised of nine departments, is the office through which the Chief Justice both manages the Trial Court and provides services to it. There are approximately 400 judges and 7,500 employees in the Trial Court who work in more than one hundred locations across the Commonwealth.