- Executive Office of the Trial Court
- Massachusetts Court System
Media Contact for Justice Index Ranks Massachusetts Third in Nation & First in Northeast
Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago
BOSTON, MA — Court leaders today announced results of the latest Justice Index, an online, data-intensive ranking survey published this week by the National Center for Access to Justice, which measures the extent to which states have adopted best practices for ensuring access to justice for all. Massachusetts ranks third overall behind Maryland and Washington D.C., and first in the Northeast.
“We are very pleased by this recognition of our concerted efforts to improve access to justice for all court users, particularly during the past 14 months, when physical access was challenging,” said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey. “This work remains a high strategic priority for the court system and we know there is much more we need to do.”
The Justice Index uses a 100-point scale to rank state policies in four areas: attorney access, support for self-represented litigants, language access, and disability access. This year, a fifth area, fines and fees, was added but did not factor into the rankings. Massachusetts received an overall score of 63.71 out of 100 possible points. The Index outlines the policy questions, methodology and weightings used at: https://www.ncaj.org/state-rankings/2021/justice-index
Since the release of the previous Justice Index in 2016, Massachusetts has focused on several efforts to expand access to justice. Recent efforts include:
- Expanding self-help information available on mass.gov/courts and organizing information in a user-friendly format;
- Offering Lawyer for the Day Programs through which lawyers offer basic legal advice and assistance with court matters to self-represented litigants;
- Establishing Zoom Room stations within select courthouses where litigants can use a computer to participate in hearings through videoconference;
- Revising and simplifying court forms using plain language, and posting dozens of translated forms online;
- Establishing seven physical Court Service Centers and one virtual Court Service Center accessible statewide to provide legal information to self-represented litigants.