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Press Release Justice Index Ranks Massachusetts Third in Nation & First in Northeast

For immediate release:
5/21/2021
  • 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, MACourt 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.

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Media Contact for Justice Index Ranks Massachusetts Third in Nation & First in Northeast

Executive Office of the Trial Court 

The Executive Office of the Trial Court facilitates communication and enables joint leadership of the Trial Court by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.

Massachusetts Court System 

The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.
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