District/Municipal Court Rules
District Court Standing Order

District/Municipal Court Rules  District Court Standing Order 1-92: Case management and procedures

Effective Date: 09/01/1992

(Applicable to the Charlestown Division)

Table of Contents

I. Case management

A. Criminal cases

1. Hours. The Clerk-Magistrate's Office is open from 8:30 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. from Monday through Friday. Defense counsel should advise defendants to report to the Probation Department at or before 8:30 A.M. on the morning of arraignment or on the day of their first appearance in court.

Criminal cases are heard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week of the year and are called in the first session courtroom at 9:00 A.M. If Monday or Wednesday is a legal holiday, the court will hear cases on Tuesday or Thursday, respectively, of that week, and may hear criminal cases at other times and in other places by special assignment.

2. Daily lists. The daily list of cases is available for inspection at 9:00 A.M. each day. Only a judge sitting in the Charlestown court is authorized to excuse a defendant from his or her appearance in court, or to reschedule or continue a case which has been scheduled for a particular day. When a judge is sitting, a defendant who is in custody may not be released until presented to the judge.

3. Call of the list. The first call of the list is scheduled for 9:00 A.M. If counsel is required to be in another court on the same day as his or her appearance in Charlestown, every effort will be made to reach such cases first if counsel brings the matter to the attention of the clerk prior to 9:00 AM.

4. When a judge is unavailable. Whenever during normal court business hours a judge is unavailable, the Clerk-Magistrate or a designated Assistant Clerk-Magistrate may set terms of release and assign a trial date, and may exercise the Court's authority to appoint counsel pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:10. A party aggrieved by any action of the Clerk-Magistrate or Assistant Clerk-Magistrate may obtain review of that action at the next scheduled sitting of the court.

5. Scheduling cases for trial. Generally, criminal cases will be scheduled for trial or other disposition following arraignment. In appropriate circumstances (e.g., seriousness or complexity of the charge), a case may be scheduled for pretrial conference. Default removals, probation reviews, and probation surrenders are generally scheduled for the afternoon session.

6. Election. Except by leave of Court, the defendant's election or waiver of first instance trial by jury must be filed at the defendant's first appearance following arraignment.

7. Pretrial motions. The Court will not hear any pretrial motions in a case unless and until the defendant makes an election and waives the right to jury trial in the first instance. Pretrial motions, including requests for a continuance, must be in writing and must comply with the provisions of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure. Costs may be assessed under Mass.R.Crim.P. 10(b) against a party who requests a continuance that is not in compliance with the rules. In all but the most extraordinary circumstances, a case marked "no further continuances" will be dismissed if the Commonwealth is not prepared for trial on the scheduled date. Costs may be assessed against a defendant or defense counsel if the defense is not prepared for trial on the scheduled date.

8. Special disposition session. On the second Monday of each month, or on the second Tuesday if the second Monday is a legal holiday, the court will conduct a Special Disposition Session at 8:00 A.M. in the first session courtroom. This session is designed for the convenience of counsel and litigants in criminal and civil matters in which the parties have reached agreement in all respects and in which the presence of witnesses (other than a defendant in a criminal case who has been released on recognizance) is not required. Matters will be heard in the Special Disposition Session only by prearrangement. In order to schedule a matter for the Special Disposition Session, the parties must prepare and file an Agreement for Disposition Form on or before the close of business on the Wednesday preceding the Special Disposition Session.

9. Defaults. A defendant seeking to remove a default in a criminal case shall be directed to report to the Probation Department and to the Clerk-Magistrate's Office before he or she comes before the Court. In any case in which there is an entry of a defendant's default, the Court may impose costs under Mass.R.Crim.P. 6(d) and G.L. c. 280, § 6 .

10. Interpreter. A Spanish speaking interpreter is scheduled to be present on the second Wednesday of each month. Counsel who are aware of the need for an interpreter are requested to advise the Clerk-Magistrate's Office as soon as possible.

B. Emergency relief under G.L. c. 209A

1. Priority attention. Requests for protection and relief from abuse under G.L. c. 209A shall take precedence over all non-emergency matters before the court. The Chief Probation Officer and a victim/witness advocate are available to assist anyone seeking relief under G.L. c. 209A .

2. Relief after hours. The court will hear requests for relief from abuse under G.L. c. 209A at any time when a judge is present in the courthouse. On weekdays when the court is not sitting in Charlestown (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays), a person may secure relief under G.L. c. 209A during business hours by coming to the Clerk-Magistrate's Office, which will contact a judge by telephone. At other times, a party in need of assistance should be directed to contact local police to request assistance from the Trial Court's emergency response system.

C. Juvenile matters

1. Schedule. Juvenile cases are scheduled for hearing or trial in the second session courtroom on Wednesday afternoons at 2:00 P.M., or at any other time that may be designated by the Presiding Justice. Defense counsel should advise juveniles to report to the Probation Department no later than 1:30 P.M. on the day their cases are scheduled, unless directed by the Probation Department to report at another time. Juvenile arraignments will be scheduled as soon as possible following the arrest of a juvenile.

D. Civil matters

1. Schedule. Scheduling of cases for motion, hearing, trial, or disposition should be arranged with the Assistant Clerk-Magistrate for Civil Business. Unless otherwise ordered by the Court or permitted by law, the Clerk-Magistrate's Office must be notified no later than the close of business on Tuesday in order for a civil matter to be scheduled for hearing or trial on Friday of that week. With the approval of the Court, a civil case may be scheduled for a time certain on any other day.

2. Call of the list. On Friday afternoons at 1:30 P.M., there will be a call of the civil list in the second session courtroom for previously scheduled Small Claims, Summary Process, Trustee Process, Supplementary Process, tort, contract or other civil matters. The order in which civil cases are called is within the discretion of the court. Generally, matters in which the parties are in agreement or as to which no opposition has been filed will be called first.

3. List. A Civil List will be available on Thursday of each week for the session scheduled for the next day.

4. Conference. All civil cases, including those remanded from the Superior Court Department, shall be scheduled for a pretrial conference for consideration of the matters referred to in Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. 16. Counsel shall appear at the pretrial conference with full authority in all respects, or shall make advance arrangements for the client to be available for consultation during the course of the pretrial conference. The Court may enter an order summarizing the actions taken at the conference and setting a date for trial, which will control the subsequent course of the action unless modified at trial to prevent manifest injustice.

II. Special procedures and programs

A. Probation surrender

The Charlestown District Court follows a strict policy regarding compliance with the terms of court ordered probation. Unless specified otherwise by the sentencing judge, a sentence of probation is a sentence to "supervised probation" subject to the statutory probation supervision fee in G.L. c. 276, § 87A . Probationers are subject to periodic reviews by the assigned probation officer in every case. Terms of probation shall be in writing and signed by the probationer. Failure to honor any of the terms of the probation supervision may result in an administrative review by the Chief Probation Officer. Any substantial deviation from the terms of the probation will result in the issuance of a surrender notice followed by a prompt hearing to determine whether probation should be revoked.

B. Payment of fines, fees, costs, and restitution

The fee required by G.L. c. 211D, § 2A for the cost of appointed counsel is required to be paid at the defendant's next appearance in court following the appointment of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the Probation Department is authorized to schedule payment of fines, fees, costs, and restitution over the period of time that the offender is on probation or subject to a continuance without a finding.

C. Substance abuse evaluation

It is a standing order of the Court in any case in which a person is placed on probation as part of the sentence in a criminal case or prior to trial under G.L. c. 276, § 87 that the probation is to be supervised and may include a requirement of outpatient evaluation for any substance abuse problem which may exist. The Chief Probation Officer may require such evaluation at any time in his or her discretion if the defendant consents; if the defendant refuses such consent, the Chief Probation Officer may recommend that the Court require such an evaluation.

D. Community service

The Probation Department of the Charlestown District Court supervises an active program of community service. It is a standing order of the Court that any person who is ordered to pay a fine, assessment or cost, other than restitution, and is found to be indigent or is otherwise unable to pay shall satisfy the financial obligation by performing community service at the rate of $6.00 per hour unless disqualified by a verified disability.

E. Diversion program

Appropriate first time offenders are eligible for the court's Juvenile Diversion Program. For further details, contact the Chief Probation Officer.

F. Mediation

1. General rule. The court strongly encourages the informal resolution of civil cases and other appropriate matters, and will assist the parties with the possibility of settlement by providing mediation services whenever requested by a party or a lawyer. Parties or lawyers who wish to explore a resolution of their dispute by a method other than the traditional court process should contact the Assistant Clerk-Magistrate for Civil Business.

2. Small claims. All small claims cases will be screened for voluntary participation in a court sponsored mediation session at the courthouse prior to the presentation of the case to the court.

G. Probation department services. The Charlestown District Court Probation Department sponsors and supports a variety of community based programs for persons who are victims of crime, for offenders, and for the families and friends of those affected by crime, including in particular support groups, counselling, and mental health services. Particular emphasis is given to persons and families affected by alcohol and drug abuse. For more information, contact Chief Probation Officer Dr. Barbara Burke.


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