The matters listed below shall be conducted by a judge administratively or virtually only without the physical presence of the parties, counsel, or other members of the public so as to avoid person to person contact and the possibility of transmission of the virus.
The following matters, where it is practicable in view of skeletal court staffing, technological constraints and the need to prioritize emergency matters, shall be heard in the Juvenile Court:
A. Care and Protection Matters
1. Temporary Custody Orders, Orders for Anti-Psychotic Medication and Extraordinary Medical Treatment. Any temporary custody order, order for anti-psychotic medication and/or extraordinary medical treatment set to expire or with a scheduled event shall be heard administratively or virtually as determined by the First Justice. In addition, a party may file a motion via email or fax to the appropriate court location to bring the matter forward upon a demonstration of exigent circumstances. The party shall note on the title page of the motion that the motion concerns exigent circumstances and that the party is seeking review of the motion prior to July 1, 2020. It shall be in the discretion of the First Justice for the Juvenile Court division with jurisdiction over the matter to determine whether the motion may be heard prior to July 1, 2020.
2. Petitions for Do Not Resuscitate/Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment. Any petition filed pursuant to G.L. c. 119, § 38A shall be filed via email or fax to the appropriate court location. The petition shall be decided on the pleadings and the parties shall be informed of the judge’s order via email or fax. If the judge determines that a hearing is necessary, the hearing shall be held virtually.
3. Identification of Subject Children in Care and Protection Matters. The identification of the subject child in a care and protection matter pursuant to G.L. c. 119, § 26(a) may be conducted virtually.
4. Permanency Hearings. All permanency hearings shall begin to be heard virtually.
5. Hearings to Nominate a Custodian (so called 3rd Party Custody Hearings). Any hearing in which a party to a care and protection case seeks to nominate an individual as a temporary custodian may be heard virtually if the parties demonstrate to the court that they can meet the requirements set forth under G.L. c. 119, § 26(b)(2)(i) for the hearing. Any hearing to nominate a temporary custodian where the parties are unable to demonstrate that they can meet the requirements of G.L. c. 119, § 26(b)(2)(i) may be held at the discretion of the judge.
6. Court Investigators and Guardians Ad Litem. Any court investigator appointed to a care and protection matter shall resume and/or begin and complete the investigation as required by G.L. c. 119, §§ 21A, and 24. The Administrative Office of the Juvenile Court shall issue further guidelines for court investigators regarding report deadlines and extensions, conducting of interviews, document reviews, etc. during this time of emergency operations. Court investigators shall not conduct any in-person interviews and shall conduct interviews virtually. Court investigators shall mail one copy of the completed investigation to the appropriate court location. Court investigators shall not fax or email any reports to the court. Court investigators shall contact the court by phone only with any questions regarding their appointment.
Any guardian ad litem appointed shall resume/and or begin their work as outlined by the scope of their appointment. The Administrative Office of the Juvenile Court shall issue further guidelines for guardians ad litem regarding deadlines and extensions, conducting interviews, document reviews, etc. during this time of emergency operations. Guardians ad litem shall not conduct any in-person interviews and shall conduct interviews virtually.
All bills shall continue to be mailed to the appropriate court locations with the understanding that there may be a delay in the processing of bills due to limited staff.
If a party requests to hold the adoption as originally scheduled, the court shall inform the party that an in-person hearing is not possible but the court will issue the appropriate decree on the originally scheduled date and mail the decree to the parties or the court may hold the hearing virtually. In addition, if the Department of Children and Families notifies the court that it has a completed adoption packet that is ready to be filed with the court and the parties would like to move forward with the adoption, the court shall accept the adoption for filing and schedule the matter for the issuance of the decree as soon as practicable. No in-person hearing shall occur, though a hearing may be held virtually and, if issued, the court shall mail the decree to the parties. A completed adoption packet shall contain all forms necessary for the adoption as required by the court.
Any guardianship annual report review scheduled to occur shall be held as originally scheduled. The review shall be conducted administratively by the court. If after reviewing the annual report the judge determines that a hearing is necessary, the court shall schedule the hearing to occur as soon as practicable. Such hearing shall be held virtually only.
D. Child Requiring Assistance (CRA)
All school based CRA hearings shall be continued to a date after September 1, 2020. All other CRA hearings shall be continued to July 1, 2020 or a date thereafter. Any CRA cases where a disposition order is scheduled to expire following any possible extensions of the order shall be dismissed. It shall be in the discretion of the First Justice as to whether any CRA cases where a child is currently in the temporary custody of the Department of Children and Families shall be scheduled to be heard virtually during this time in order to review the custody status of the child. In addition, a party may file a motion via email or fax to the appropriate court location to bring the matter forward upon a demonstration of exigent circumstances when the child is in the temporary custody of the Department of Children and Families. The party shall note on the title page of the motion that the motion concerns exigent circumstances and that the party is seeking review of the motion prior to July 1, 2020.
E. Delinquency/Youthful Offender Proceedings
1. Probable Cause or ‘Show Cause’ Hearings. Show cause hearings scheduled between March 16, 2020 and July 1, 2020 shall be continued to a date set by the Clerk-Magistrate. Show cause hearings on all applications for complaints filed between March 16, 2020 and July 1, 2020 shall be scheduled to take place on a date set by the Clerk-Magistrate.
2. Tenders of Plea. In a delinquency or youthful offender matter, if the juvenile seeks to enter a tender of plea, the juvenile's attorney may file the tender of plea via email with the appropriate Juvenile Court location. The tender of plea must be signed, or e-signed, by the juvenile, his or her attorney, and the district attorney prior to being submitted. A hearing shall be scheduled as soon as possible and shall take place virtually.
3. Summons Arraignments. Summons arraignments on complaints issued between March 16, 2020 and July 1, 2020 shall be continued to a date determined by the Clerk-Magistrate. The Clerk-Magistrate’s office shall notify the attorney of the day of their appointment to the case prior to the scheduled date of the arraignment in order for the attorney to begin work regarding the arraignment.
F. Motions for Funds.
Pursuant to CPCS v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court (No. 2), SJC-12926, (2020) any motions for funds filed where the juvenile is currently detained pre-trial, has been civilly committed pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 35, or has been permanently committed to the Department of Youth Services, shall be heard as soon as possible. The motion may be heard administratively or virtually.
G. New Filings in Non-Emergency Matters
Unless otherwise identified in this Standing Order, parties shall file new matters by mail, email or fax. The filings will be docketed, and the event scheduled for a date to be determined by the First Justice and Clerk-Magistrate.