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Press Release Trial Court and Trial Court Departments Issue Orders Concerning Court Operations and Implementation of Supreme Judicial Court Decision

For immediate release:
4/06/2020
  • Executive Office of the Trial Court
  • Boston Municipal Court
  • District Court
  • Superior Court
  • Housing Court
  • Juvenile Court
  • Land Court
  • Probate and Family Court
  • Massachusetts Court System

Media Contact for Trial Court and Trial Court Departments Issue Orders Concerning Court Operations and Implementation of Supreme Judicial Court Decision

Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MAIn accordance with the Supreme Judicial Court Order, effective April 6, 2020, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has issued Trial Court Emergency Administrative Order 20-7 to address court operations under the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The emergency administrative order helps to protect the public, our court employees, and our justice partners from the COVID-19 pandemic by making sure that all matters that can be heard virtually are heard without an in-person appearance and allows the public in to Trial Court courthouses only with the express permission of a Regional Administrative Justice or First Justice," said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey.

Also in light of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Order, each Trial Court department has issued a standing order establishing specific operational protocols until at least May 4, 2020. These standing orders are consistent with the Emergency Administrative Order and ensure that all Trial Court Departments continue to hear emergency matters within their jurisdiction. The individual standing orders are linked below.

Boston Municipal Court Standing Order 4-20https://www.mass.gov/boston-municipal-court-standing-orders/boston-municipal-court-standing-order-4-20-limiting-in

District Court Standing Order 3-20https://www.mass.gov/districtmunicipal-court-rules/district-court-standing-order-3-20-court-operations-under-the-exigent

Housing Court Standing Order 4-20https://www.mass.gov/housing-court-rules/housing-court-standing-order-4-20-supplement-to-housing-court-standing-orders-2

Juvenile Court Standing Order 4-20https://www.mass.gov/juvenile-court-rules/juvenile-court-standing-order-4-20-extension-of-emergency-court-operations

Land Court Standing Order 4-20https://www.mass.gov/land-court-rules/land-court-standing-order-4-20-emergency-measures-in-response-to-coronavirus

Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-20https://www.mass.gov/probate-and-family-court-rules/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-2-20-court-operations-under

Superior Court Standing Order 4-20https://www.mass.gov/superior-court-rules/superior-court-standing-order-4-20-superior-court-operations-during-the

Court users with emergency matters should call their local court Clerk’s Office, Register’s Office or Recorder’s Office. Contact numbers for individual courts and offices can be found online on the Courthouse Locator webpage. If a court user is unable to reach those offices or has general questions about cases, they can call the Trial Court Help Line at 833-91COURT. The Help Line is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through FridayClick here to learn more about the Help Line.

The Boston Municipal Court, District Court, Juvenile Court, and Superior Court departments also have each issued a standing order outlining procedures for implementation of the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in the matter of Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court (SJC-12926) (April 3, 2020) (CPCS v. Chief Justice). In CPCS v. Chief Justice, the Supreme Judicial Court set forth procedures permitting certain pretrial detainees and individuals serving sentences to seek release from detention or custody in order to decrease the exposure to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) within correctional institutions. The Trial Court departmental standing orders are listed below.

Boston Municipal Court Standing Order 5-20: COVID-19 Designated Session 

District Court Standing Order 4-20: Protocol Governing Requests for Release from Detention, and Requests to Revise or Revoke or to Stay Sentence, based on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Risks

Juvenile Court Standing Order 5-20: Protocol Governing Requests for Release from Detention, and Requests to Revise or Revoke or to Stay Sentence, based on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Risks 

Superior Court Standing Order 5-20: Protocol Governing Requests for Release from Detention, and Requests to Revise or Revoke or to Stay Sentence, based on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Risks 

Updates regarding the court system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic are available on the court’s website.

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Media Contact for Trial Court and Trial Court Departments Issue Orders Concerning Court Operations and Implementation of Supreme Judicial Court Decision

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.

Boston Municipal Court 

The Boston Municipal Court Department serves the City of Boston, and handles both criminal and civil matters.

District Court 

The District Court Department hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health, and other types of cases.

Superior Court 

The Superior Court Department is a statewide court that handles both criminal and civil actions.

Housing Court 

Currently all non-emergency cases will be scheduled for, or continued to, a date no earlier than May. Parties will receive notice of rescheduled cases, but plaintiffs are advised to alert all parties of the scheduling change. Each Clerk-Magistrate, in consultation with the First Justice, has the discretion in his/her respective division to determine if an event is considered an emergency. All self-represented litigants are encouraged to eFile as set forth in the Housing Court’s Standing Order 2-20, or, in the alternative, may send all correspondence to the court by first-class mail. If you need further assistance please refer to the department’s list of Hotline numbers relevant to the department such as the Clerk’s Office, Tenancy Preservation Program and Legal Services. This list can be accessed below under ‘What would you like to do?’.

Juvenile Court 

The Juvenile Court Department oversees civil and criminal matters statewide involving children including youthful offender, care and protection, and delinquency cases.

Land Court 

The Land Court oversees land registration, hears cases involving decisions by local planning boards and zoning boards of appeal, and handles most other property matters. It also has superintendence authority over the registered land offices in each Registry of Deeds. There are 7 Land Court justices, including Chief Justice Gordon H. Piper.

Probate and Family Court 

The Probate and Family Court Department handles matters involving families and children, like divorce, child support, and wills.

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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