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Archived Daily Court Updates April 6 - April 10, 2020

Archived daily court updates from the Massachusetts state courts in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Issues Order

  • The Supreme Judicial Court issued an Order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented parties, effective April 7.

Trial Court and Trial Court Departments Issue Orders

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Posts Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Although courthouses are closed except for emergency matters until at least May 4, court business continues virtually (by telephone, videoconference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system)

  • On April 7, the Supreme Judicial Court posted FAQs that answer questions like: Is the Supreme Judicial Court conducting business during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are both SJC clerks' offices still accepting filings? Click here to see responses to these and other questions.
  • On April 7, the SJC Clerk's Office for the County of Suffolk posted FAQs that answer questions like: Has the SJC taken any steps to extend court deadlines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic? Has the SJC taken any action to extend injunctions and similar orders? Click here to see responses to these and other questions.

Superior Court Order Postpones May 2020 Sitting of the Appellate Division

  • On March 23, the Chair of the Superior Court Appellate Division, the Honorable Linda E. Giles, issued an Order announcing the postponement of the May 2020 sitting of the Appellate Division in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19) risks. The new sitting will be from November 2 through November 16, 2020. Click here to see the announcement.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Committee Launches Website and Technology Help Line for Lawyers

  • The SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being has launched a website that aims to keep the public informed of the ongoing work of the Committee and to provide well-being resources to the legal community.  In addition to the website, the Committee has launched a technology help line called TechLine. The TechLine provides attorneys and legal professionals with live one-on-one assistance in selecting, implementing, and troubleshooting technology to operate their practice. Lawyers can reach the TechLine at: (888) 314-7714Click here to learn more about the website, TechLine and the Simple Remote Work Guide developed by the Committee.

Appeals Court Continues Video Conference Oral Argument Pilot Program

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Appeals Court has developed a video conference oral argument pilot program to test the feasibility of using the Zoom video conferencing application to conduct oral arguments remotely. Click here to learn more about the pilot program.

New webpage: Court Contact Info & Overview of COVID-19 Response

  • The court system has posted a webpage that provides email and phone contact information for all the courts and provides an overview of actions the state courts have taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Trial Court Help Line in the News

  • During the Governor's daily Coronavirus update from the State House today, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito talked about the Trial Court's Help Line. Launched on April 2, the Help Line has already received hundreds of calls. Members of the public can call the Help Line to ask general questions about their civil and criminal cases and get help navigating the court system while courthouses are closed to the public except for remote handling of emergency matters. The Help Line is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 1-833-91COURT.

Follow Us

  • On April 1, the state court system launched Twitter handle @MACourts. Follow us to keep up with current information and updates on court news and events.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Courts Answer Your Questions

  • The Supreme Judicial Court, Appeals Court, and Trial Court Departments have posted responses to frequently asked questions. If you have questions about how to file a case while courthouses are closed, when your trial will go forward, jury duty, or any number of court-related questions, we have answers. 

Translated Information Now Available

  • The Juvenile Court and Probate & Family Court have posted translated information relating to the court's response to COVID-19. See the court's COVID-19 webpage to learn more. 

Land Court: Memo from Christina T. Geaney, Chief Title Examiner