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Archived Daily Court Updates March 30 - April 4, 2020

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

Massachusetts Bar Exam Postponed

  • The Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Bar Examiners today announced that, due to the ongoing public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts bar examination will not be administered on July 28 and July 29, 2020 as previously scheduled. The bar exam has been postponed until fall, on dates to be determined. Click here to learn more: https://www.mass.gov/news/massachusetts-bar-examination-postponed

Supreme Judicial Court Orders 
The Supreme Judicial Court today issued two orders: 

Temporary Court Closures and Reopenings

  • Lynn District Court has been closed temporarily, pending employee test results for COVID-19. Court matters are being handled by Peabody District Court. To see which courts are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/temporary-court-closures-due-to-covid-19 
  • Southern Berkshire District Court and the Hampshire County Courthouse, which were temporarily closed, will both reopen on Tuesday, March 31.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Temporary Court Closures 

  • The Charlestown Division of the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. Charlestown will reopen on Monday, April 6. Charlestown emergency matters will be handled by the East Boston Division of the BMC.
  • The temporary closure of the Brooke Courthouse in Boston has been extended. It will now reopen on Tuesday, April 7, due to another employee at that location testing positive for COVID-19. The court protocol is to close the courthouse 14 days from the last day the employee was in the courthouse. Boston Municipal Court Central Division emergency matters will be handled by the East Boston Division of the BMC.

To see which courts are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/temporary-court-closures-due-to-covid-19

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Issues Order and Press Release

Trial Court Announces Help Line

  • The Trial Court announced the establishment of a Help Line beginning on April 2 that the public can call to ask general questions about their civil and criminal cases and help them navigate the court system while the court system remains closed to the public except for emergency matters. The Help Line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 833-91COURT. Click here to learn more about the Help Line. 

Trial Court Departments Issue Standing Orders

The Land Court and Superior Court today issued standing orders that repeal and replace previously issued Standing Orders:

Trial Court Issues Emergency Administrative Order 

  • The Trial Court issued Emergency Administrative Order 20-6 that outlines temporary alternative procedures for Bail Magistrates and Bail Commissioners setting and taking bail after court hours during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read the Order.

Massachusetts Court System Launches New Twitter Handle

The state court system today launched a new Twitter handle, @MACourts, to provide the public with current information and updates on court news and events.

Temporary Court Closures

  • The Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston (3 Pemberton Square) is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The courthouse is expected to reopen on Thursday, April 9.
  • Two courthouses in Springfield have been closed temporarily due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.  Both courthouses are expected to reopen on Thursday, April 9. The court protocol is to close the courthouse 14 days from the last day the employee was in the courthouse. To see which courts are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/temporary-court-closures-due-to-covid-19

Details on the handling of emergency matters for these courthouses will be posted on the court system's response to COVID-19 webpage as they become available.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Appeals Court Issues Revised Notice Regarding Procedures and Deadline Extensions

  • On April 1, the Appeals Court issued a revised statement of guidelines and internal operating procedures to assist the public in understanding the Appeals Court’s administrative response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related orders of the Supreme Judicial Court. Click here to read the Notice.

Appeals Court Pilot Program for Remote Oral Arguments

  • On April 2, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., the Appeals Court piloted a remote oral argument by video conference. A panel of Justices Peter Rubin, Amy Blake, and Dalila Wendlandt heard arguments presented by three attorneys in 19-P-1490, a child welfare appeal.  All participants were remote. The oral arguments were held via a Zoom video conference that was live streamed to the Appeals Court's new YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5m3QM1dmvSvc42I_9tTxtw

    An audio recording of the session will be posted the following day on the Court's docket website at https://www.ma-appellatecourts.org/. After the audio recording is posted, the video will be removed from the YouTube channel.  At this time, this is a pilot case. No decision has been made as to any additional video conference hearings. The Appeals Court anticipates that the oral arguments for its May session of 96 cases will be held by video or telephone conference.

Probate and Family Court Issues Order

  • The Probate and Family Court issued Standing Order 4-20, concerning email service in cases under Rule 5 (b) of the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure. Click here to read the Order.

Probate and Family Court Posts Information about Filing Methods for Emergency Actions

Temporary Closure: Land Court’s Offices in the Suffolk County Courthouse

  • On April 1, the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston (3 Pemberton Square) temporarily closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The courthouse is expected to reopen on Thursday, April 9. Due to the closure of the courthouse, the Land Court's Offices located in that courthouse will be closed and not open to the public, attorneys, and all Land Court and Trial Court staff from April 1 to April 9, 2020. Click here to find out how to contact the Land Court while the courthouse is closed.

Update from the Jury Commissioner for Citizens Scheduled for Jury Duty

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What matters are considered emergency matters in the court?
Courts are closed to the public, except for emergency matters, until at least May 4. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Opinion

Appeals Court Posts Notice

Probate and Family Court Posts Protocols for Court Operations by Division

Probate and Family Court Issues Amended Standing Order

Juvenile Court Issues Standing Order

Temporary Court Closures

  • On April 2, the Covett Courthouse in Brockton and the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) were temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure. Both reopening dates are to be determined. To find out how to contact the affected court departments while the courthouses are closed and how emergency matters will handled, please see the Temporary Court Closures webpage.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What matters are considered emergency matters in the court?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic courthouses are closed to the public, except for emergency matters, until at least May 4. 

  • The Probate and Family Court has posted FAQs that answer questions like: What do I do if I have an emergency matter? What do I do if I have a question about parenting time? What do I do if I think my child support order should be changed because I have lost my job? Click here to see responses to these and other questions.
  • The Superior Court has posted FAQs that answer questions about civil and criminal matters like: When is my case on, and do I have to appear? I have a deadline pending in a case. Does the deadline still apply? Click here to see responses to these and other questions.

Trial Court Help Line Up and Running

  • The Trial Court Help Line launched on April 2 and is ready to take your 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 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 833-91COURT.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Supreme Judicial Court Sitting Week

Massachusetts Bar Examination Rescheduled

  • The Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Bar Examiners today announced that the Massachusetts bar examination that was scheduled for July has been rescheduled and will now be held on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1, 2020 in Boston. Click here to read more.

Boston Municipal Court Issues Standing Order

  • On April 3, the Boston Municipal Court issued Standing Order 4-20: Limiting in-person appearances in Boston Municipal Courthouses to emergency matters, rescinding Standing Order 3-20. Standing Order 4-20 is effective April 6.

Housing Court Issues Standing Order

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