Rescinding and superseding Juvenile Court Standing Orders 1-20, 2-20, 3-20 and 4-20. Amending Juvenile Court Standing Order 6-20.
Juvenile Court Rules Juvenile Court Standing Order 8-20: Further extension of court operations under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19
Table of Contents
WHEREAS, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an Order, OE-144, on June 24, 2020, providing that beginning on July 13, 2020 all Massachusetts courthouses will physically reopen to the public for certain limited purposes and that Trial Court departments shall begin to conduct in-person proceedings in emergency and non-emergency matters that either can be handled more effectively or efficiently in person, or cannot be handled virtually because a virtual proceeding is not practicable or because it would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights, and pursuant to my authority under G.L. c. 211B, §10,
It is hereby ORDERED that Juvenile Court Standing Order 1-20 issued on Friday, March 13, 2020, Juvenile Court Standing Order 2-20 issued on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Juvenile Court Standing Order 3-20 issued on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and Juvenile Court Standing Order 4-20 issued on Monday, April 6, 2020 are rescinded and superseded by this Standing Order.
It is hereby FURTHER ORDERED that Juvenile Court Standing Order 6-20 issued on Friday, May 1, 2020 shall remain in effect until the close of business on Friday, July 10, 2020.1
The term “virtually” as used throughout this Standing Order shall refer to the resolution of a matter through the use of telephone, videoconference, email, electronic filings and/or other comparable means.
This Order will remain in effect until a subsequent order issues rescinding this Order.
I. Juvenile Court business and access to courthouses
Beginning on July 13, 2020 courthouses will re-open to the public for limited purposes. Pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court OE-144, entry into a courthouse will be limited to personnel who work in the courthouse and persons who are present for one or more of the following purposes: attending in-person court proceedings; conducting in-person business with the office of the Clerk-Magistrate; meeting with a probation officer or staff person; or conducting business at other offices that are open to the public and housed in the courthouse.
The physical reopening of the courthouses to the public shall be undertaken with diligent regard for the health and safety of court users and personnel in accordance with protocols established by the Trial Court.
To continue to limit the number of persons entering courthouses, the Juvenile Court will continue to conduct most court business virtually.
Emergency and non-emergency matters in the Juvenile Court shall be heard virtually unless the matter can be handled more effectively or efficiently in person or cannot be handled virtually because a virtual proceeding is not practicable or would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights or unless otherwise provided for in this Order.
The presiding justice shall determine whether the matter may be heard in person.
II. Emergency matters
The following matters have been designated as emergency matters in the Juvenile Court.
A. Care and Protection Matters
- Petitions. All petitions filed pursuant to G.L. c. 119, § 24 shall be emailed or faxed to the appropriate court location by the petitioner. After review by the judge, the judge’s order, including the determination required by G.L. c. 119, § 29C, shall be emailed or faxed to the parties.
- 72-Hour Hearings. If the judge grants temporary custody of the child(ren) to the Department of Children and Families, the temporary custody hearing required under G.L. c. 119, § 24, shall be heard as provided for in Section I of this Order.
B. Child Requiring Assistance (CRA)
- CRA Runaway. If a parent contacts the court regarding the filing of a child requiring assistance application alleging that the child is a runaway, the court shall make every effort to provide the parent with the application without requiring the parent to appear in person at the court. Once the application is completed and filed with the court, the court shall schedule the preliminary hearing.
C. Delinquency/Youthful Offender Proceedings
- Arraignments. All arraignments for any juvenile arrested and detained by the Department of Youth Services (DYS) shall be heard as provided for in Section I of this Order. When the arraignment is conducted virtually, the arraignment shall occur through prior arrangement between the appropriate court location and the Office of the General Counsel for DYS.
- Dangerousness Hearings. Any hearing occurring pursuant to G.L. c. 276, § 58A, shall be heard as provided for under Section 1 of this Order. When the hearing is conducted virtually and the juvenile is currently detained, the hearing shall occur through prior arrangement between the appropriate court location and the Office of the General Counsel for DYS.
- Detained Youth. Any motions for bail reconsideration, motions seeking release of youth detained as a result of a bail revocation order or detained awaiting a violation of probation hearing shall be considered in accordance with the provisions of Juvenile Court Standing Order 5-20.
- Bail. A parent, guardian or custodian may appear at the courthouse to post bail for a youth being detained at the courthouse following the issuance of a bail order. When a youth is detained on bail at DYS and is ordered to be placed on a global positioning system (GPS) as a condition of release, following notification by the parent, guardian or custodian to DYS that the parent, guardian or custodian is able to pay the bail amount, arrangements shall be made between DYS, the Clerk-Magistrate, probation, and the youth’s attorney to enable the transportation of the youth to the court, the posting of bail by the parent, guardian or custodian at the court and the installation of GPS by probation at the court. Procedure for Posting Bail When GPS is a Condition of Release During Emergency Court Operations issued by the Administrative Office of the Juvenile Court shall govern this process.
D. G.L. c. 123, § 35 Hearings
If a petitioner contacts the court regarding the filing of a petition for commitment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 35, the court shall make every effort to provide the petitioner with the petition without requiring the petitioner to appear in person at the court. Once the petition is completed and filed with the court, the court shall schedule the hearing.
Any youth apprehended on a warrant of apprehension issued pursuant to a G.L. c. 123, § 35 petition shall be brought to court by the police and an in-person hearing shall take place at the court.
E. G.L. c. 123, §§ 7, 8 Hearings
The court shall receive any petitions filed pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 7 as emergency petitions. The hearing shall take place within the statutorily prescribed period.
F. Harassment Prevention Orders
- Emergency Harassment Prevention Orders and the hearing after initial notice shall be heard as provided for in Section I of this Order.
- All emergency protection orders (G.L. c. 258E) issued after notice prior to the issuance of this order and 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.
- Any orders issued prior to March 16th with a 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.
- Any protection order (G.L. c. 258E) issued at a hearing after notice during the pendency of this order which was held virtually may be issued up to the full statutory period.
III. Non-emergency hearings
The following matters have been designated as non-emergency matters in the Juvenile Court.
A. Care and Protection Matters
- 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 may be heard administratively or as provided for under Section 1 of this Order.
- 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 heard as provided for under Section 1 of this Order.
- 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) shall be conducted virtually.
- Permanency Hearings. All permanency hearings shall be heard as provided for under Section 1 of this Order.
- 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 shall be heard as provided for under Section 1 of this Order 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.
- Court Investigators and Guardians Ad Litem. Any court investigator appointed to a care and protection matter shall conduct the investigation as required by G.L. c. 119, §§ 21A, and 24. Court investigators may conduct in-person interviews, in their discretion, if such interviews are able to be conducted in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control regarding social distancing and person to person contact. 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 conduct their work as outlined by the scope of their appointment. Guardians ad litem may conduct in-person interviews, in their discretion, if such interviews are able to be conducted in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control regarding social distancing and person to person contact.
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.
Adoption decrees may be finalized by the court administratively, virtually or, at the discretion of the presiding justice, in person.
Any guardianship annual report 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 heard as provided for in Section I of this Order.
All other guardianship matters including petitions for guardianship, temporary guardianship, motions to resign as guardian, motions to revoke a guardianship and motions for substituted judgement shall be heard as provided for in Section I of this Order.
D. Child Requiring Assistance (CRA)
All school based CRA hearings shall be continued to a date after September 1, 2020.
All other CRA matters including the filing of applications alleging a child requires assistance, preliminary hearings, temporary custody hearings, fact finding hearings, conferences, disposition hearings and disposition review hearings shall be heard as provided for Section 1 of this Order.
E. Delinquency/Youthful Offender Proceedings
- Probable Cause or ‘Show Cause’ Hearings. Show cause hearings on all applications for complaints shall be scheduled to take place on a date set by the Clerk-Magistrate. It shall be within the discretion of the Clerk-Magistrate as to whether the hearing shall take place in person or virtually.
- 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 hearing shall be heard as provided for in Section I of this Order.
- Summons Arraignments. Summons arraignments on complaints shall be scheduled on 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.
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.
IV. Bench trials
A. Delinquency and Youthful Offender Bench Trials
Delinquency and youthful offender bench trials shall be held in person unless all of the parties and trial judge agree to conduct the trial virtually. Priority shall be given to those bench trials that had been scheduled to be held between March 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020 where the youth is detained pending trial.
B. Care and Protection Bench Trials
Care and Protection bench trials may be held virtually in the discretion of the trial judge. Priority shall be given to those bench trials that had been scheduled to be held between March 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020.
V. Juvenile Court locations
The Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court, after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Trial Court, for reasons of public health and safety may order that a court division or location conduct all business virtually and/or may transfer some or all in-person matters to specified courts within the Juvenile Court Department. Juvenile Court First Justices shall not order the closure of a court location within their division to the public without the permission of the Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court. Beginning July 13, 2020 all Juvenile Court locations shall be staffed, at a minimum, once a week unless the location is closed to the public due to an emergency or by authorization of the Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court.
VI. Other court business
A. Recording and Docketing of Virtual Hearings
All virtual hearings shall be held, to the extent practicable, in a courtroom or other location that can be recorded by FTR. Clerk-Magistrates shall docket all cases in MassCourts consistent with normal procedures.
B. Physical Presence in a Courtroom
Pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Order OE-144, no one other than court personnel may be physically present in the courtroom during the virtual hearing without the approval of the judge or clerk-magistrate conducting the hearing. In the absence of exceptional circumstances, as determined by the judge or clerk-magistrate conducting the hearing, no party or attorney for a party may be physically present for a scheduled virtual hearing. Where an in-person hearing is scheduled, a judge, upon request, may authorize an attorney, party or witness to appear virtually while other participants appear in person so long as it is consistent with the protection of constitutional rights. A participant who requests to appear virtually for an otherwise in-person proceeding shall have no grounds to object to other participants appearing in person.
C. GPS and Remote Alcohol Monitoring
Pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Order OE-144, where a judge has ordered electronic monitoring in the form of either GPS or remote alcohol monitoring or in cases where, pursuant to an earlier court order, previously installed equipment requires maintenance or removal, all installations, maintenance, or removals of such equipment may occur in the courthouse to ensure security and access to personal protective equipment by probation personnel.
D. Office of the Clerk-Magistrate
All Juvenile Court Clerk-Magistrates are authorized to require the physical presence of additional staff in a clerk's office as may be necessary to address court business, provided that any such increase in staff presence will be conducted in accordance with health and safety protocols established by the Trial Court.
E. Additional Matters
Divisions of the Juvenile Court shall hear all matters under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court as provided for in Section I of this Order, with priority given to (1) emergency matters identified in Section II and bench trials identified in Section IV, and (2) non-emergency matters identified in Section III. The scheduling and hearing of all other matters will be in the discretion of the First Justice of each division.