Press Release

Press Release Trial Court Departments Issue New Standing Orders to Address Emergency Matters

For immediate release:
3/17/2020
  • Massachusetts Court System
  • Executive Office of the Trial Court
  • Boston Municipal Court
  • District Court
  • Housing Court
  • Juvenile Court
  • Land Court
  • Probate and Family Court
  • Superior Court

Media Contact for Trial Court Departments Issue New Standing Orders to Address Emergency Matters

Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MAIn accordance with the Order issued today by the Supreme Judicial Court, from March 18, 2020 until at least April 6, 2020, Massachusetts courts will be closed to the public, except to conduct emergency hearings that cannot be resolved through a videoconference or telephonic hearing. Individual clerks' offices will be open to accept emergency pleadings, to address questions and to assist with videoconference or telephonic hearings.

As directed in that Order, each of the Trial Court departments has issued a new standing order to specify what constitutes an emergency matter. The new standing orders are available on the court’s website here: https://www.mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19  Individual standing orders should be consulted for the specific types of emergency matters that will be heard in each court department.

In addition, persons who have a previously scheduled hearing, whether emergency or non-emergency in nature, during the time of the court closure as ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court, should contact the appropriate Clerk’s, Clerk Magistrate’s, Register’s or Recorder’s office for instruction. Contact numbers for individual courts and offices can be found online on the Courthouse Locator page.

"We are in uncharted territory for state judicial systems, and we are working to continue to deliver justice to all individuals while striving to keep the public, court users and our employees safe," said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey. "In these unprecedented times, we intend to listen, learn and adjust as necessary to accomplish our objective to deliver justice and to keep all safe. I am extraordinarily proud of those who work in the Trial Court who have tirelessly done their jobs in the face of this pandemic. I know that they will continue to do so."

The individual Standing Orders are linked below:

Updates regarding the court's response to the COVID-19 pandemic are available on the court's website: https://www.mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19

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Media Contact for Trial Court Departments Issue New Standing Orders to Address Emergency Matters

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.

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.

Housing Court 

The Housing Court hears eviction cases, small claims cases, and civil actions involving personal injury, property damage, breach of contract, discrimination, and other claims. The Housing Court also hears code enforcement actions and appeals of local zoning board decisions that affect residential housing. The Housing court is led by Chief Justice Timothy F. Sullivan and Deputy Court Administrator Benjamin O. Adeyinka. The Housing Court has 15 judges and covers all fourteen counties of the Commonwealth. The Housing Court has 6 divisions: Central, Eastern, Metro South, Northeast, Southeast, and Western.

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.

Superior Court 

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