i. Clerk’s Offices: Clerk’s offices shall remain open to conduct court business permitted by this Order, to schedule and facilitate hearings, to answer questions from attorneys, litigants, and the general public, to conduct other necessary business of the respective Division and shall accept all legally permissible filings in all matters. All such business will be conducted virtually, except in Emergency Matters when the filing of pleadings and other documents cannot be accomplished virtually. Each Clerk’s Office shall implement a protocol for handling the in-person filings of pleadings and other documents in Emergency Matters that is designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and preserve the health and safety of court personnel and users as much as possible. Questions regarding matters set forth in § I of this Order, including questions regarding filing of documents in-person for Emergency Matters, may be addressed by calling the telephone number of the court division..
ii. Motions Based on Continuances: Where a trial or evidentiary hearing is postponed as a result of this Order, or BMC Standing Orders 1-20, 3-20, 4-20, 6-20, the parties may file a motion seeking a conference with the court to address matters arising from the postponement by motion to the court where the event was supposed to occur. Any hearing on such motion shall be conducted virtually over videoconference or telephonic conference. In criminal cases a defendant may file a motion asking the court to address their custodial status or amend conditions of release. Nothing in this Order addresses the disposition of such requests for reconsideration.
iii. Protection Orders: Ten-day return hearings for Ex Parte orders issued under G.L. c. 209A and G.L. c. 258E shall be conducted virtually over videoconference or telephonic conference call. All emergency protection orders (G.L. c. 209A; G.L. c. 258E; G.L. c. 140) issued after an adversarial hearing (or an opportunity for an adversarial hearing), prior to the issuance of this order, that were due to expire on or after March 16, 2020, shall remain in effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard by the court. An in-person hearing may be requested for any order that issued virtually from March 13, 2020 to July 1, 2020 when normal court operations resume.
iv. Filings in Emergency and Non-Emergency Matters: Any document that the parties wish the court to review for any hearing in any Emergency or Non-Emergency Matter shall be emailed to the Clerk-Magistrate’s Office at the dedicated emails set up for each Division at bmc [court division name]@jud.state.ma.us, two business days prior to the date of the scheduled hearing if possible. Any document so filed shall be served on all parties, as well as the probation service for criminal matters, electronically when possible.
v. Court recordings: Judges and Clerks shall ensure that all videoconferences or telephonic conference are recorded to the extent practicable.
vi. Electronic signatures: All court documents, other than search warrants, may be signed electronically by any party to be accepted for filing. Electronic signatures may take the form of either a scan of an individual’s handwritten signature, an electronically inserted image intended to substitute for a signature, or a “/s/ name of signatory” block. Such electronic signature shall have the same force and effect as if the person had affixed his or her original signature to a paper copy of the document so signed.7
vii. Fees and Fines: Persons who have been assessed fees, fines, or court costs, including probation supervision fees, in a criminal matter that are due between March 18, 2020 and July 1, 2020 may pay their fee or fine online through the ePay portal that is accessible at www.masscourts.org. No fees, fines, or costs shall be collected at a courthouse while this Order is in effect. If a person is unable to pay such fee or fine through the ePay portal, the requirement that such fee or fine be paid during that time frame is deferred until July 15, 2020 and Courts shall extend payment due dates to July 15, 2020. The deferment of such payment shall not operate to extend a person’s probation.
viii. Orders Generally: Any order issued prior to March 17, 2020 after an adversarial hearing (or an opportunity for an adversarial hearing) with a return hearing scheduled during the pendency of this Order are to remain in full force and effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard by the court, unless an order issues by the court terminating the order at an earlier date.
ix. Media Access: Courts shall allow media access consistent with Supreme Judicial Court Orders in OE-144 and consistent with Section I.A. above.
x. Other Matters: This Order does not prevent any court’s consideration of any matter that can be resolved virtually in the discretion of a presiding justice so long as it is consistent with current Orders of the Supreme Judicial Court, Trial Court, and Boston Municipal Court as well as any constitutional protections.
xi. Speedy Trial Computations: Pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 36, I find that the basis for this Order necessitating these temporary, emergency conditions and continuances are in the best interests of the ends of justice and outweigh the public’s and the defendant’s interest in a speedy trial. Therefore, the time periods of such continuances shall be excluded from speedy trial computations under Mass. R. Crim. P. 36.
xii. Statute of Limitations: All statutes of limitations are tolled from the date of this order through June 30, 2020.
xiii. Exceptions: Upon a showing of exceptional circumstances, a party who had a trial or evidentiary hearing postponed as a result of this Order or prior court orders may apply for an exception from this order. No exception shall be granted except with the approval of the Chief Justice and in no event shall a jury empanelment or jury trial occur during this time period due to the inherent risk involved in doing so.
Any deviation from this Order must be sought from the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court.
This Order is effective June 1, 2020 and shall remain in effect until further order of this Court.
This Standing Order shall be posted on the judiciary's "Court System Response to COVID-19" mass.gov webpage, which is located at https://www.mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19.