Massachusetts has several types of specialty court sessions:
- Adult Drug Courts
- Mental Health Court
- Veterans' Treatment Court
- Homeless Court
However, we have additional specialty courts sessions in specific locations. Read on for details.
Family Drug Court (Franklin County)
The Franklin Probate and Family Court in Greenfield offers a special Family Drug Court session to help families in which a parent is struggling with substance use disorder. It is based on the premise that families are systems, and that the illness of one member has profound effects on others in that family. This voluntary, phased program provides parents, children and their caregivers access to community-based treatment and services. The Family Drug Court team includes the judge, probation officer, case manager, clinician, and treatment providers.
One of the goals of the program is to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder, by helping families understand that substance use disorder is a disease that can be managed.
By agreement of the parties, the underlying case – custody, guardianship, divorce, and/or visitation – is put on hold while the family seeks treatment. The court will provide for contact between the recovering parent and the children that is in the children’s best interests.
For more information, please contact the Franklin Probate and Family Court Probation Department.
Family Resolutions Specialty Court (Hampshire County)
The Family Resolutions Specialty Court (FRSC) is a unique problem-solving court at the Hampshire Probate and Family Court. It is a voluntary program that provides divorcing and separating parents the opportunity to resolve their differences in a child-centered way and with less conflict.
Using a team-based approach, every family in the FRSC receives assistance. There is a lawyer for the children and a mental health professional for the family. A Probation Officer also guides the family through the process. There are no trials or motion sessions. Instead, the case proceeds via a series of conferences in which all members of the team – the parents, their lawyers, and the judge – work together to resolve the parents' differences.
Through the FRSC, families are also referred to community support services such as: family and child therapy; substance abuse treatment; financial planning; employment, housing, fuel, and transportation assistance; early childhood intervention; and mediation.
The FRSC is available for parents with attorneys and those who are representing themselves. Interested parents and attorneys should contact the Hampshire Probate and Family Court’s Probation Department.
By agreement between the criminal defense bar and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, cases involving the possession of illegal or unlicensed firearms are transferred to the Central Division from other divisions within the Boston Municipal Court. The transfer of a case takes place immediately after arraignment, and the processing of ballistics or other forms of forensic evidence is expedited at the direction of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The status of these cases is closely monitored by the court for the earliest possible resolution of discovery and pretrial motions in order to prepare these cases for trial or other final disposition.
The Lynn District Court has a specialized firearm session that focuses and expedites the adjudication of firearm-related criminal offenses. The prompt resolution of firearm charges is seen as essential to reestablishing public safety and confidence in the communities serviced by the court. The Lynn firearm session has a goal of reducing the time between arrest and disposition so that pretrial hearings are held within 45 days of arraignment and charges are disposed within 120 days.
Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court
The Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court (BLS) provides a forum for business and commercial disputes which, because of their complexity, will benefit from individualized and collaborative case management. The BLS consists of two full time sessions committed to the timely and efficient resolution of commercial disputes and other complex cases.
Categories of cases heard in the BLS include shareholder derivative claims, business torts, intellectual property and insurance coverage disputes, and claims arising from the sale of assets, corporate mergers, and restrictive covenants in employment agreements. The BLS also hears matters brought by the Attorney General on behalf of classes of consumers as well as actions brought by private parties alleging unfair and deceptive business practices.
To learn about this specialized court sessions, visit Superior Court Business Litigation Session.
HOPE/MORR (Massachusetts Offender Recidivism Reduction) Project
High Risk Probationers in several courts participate in an intensive supervision pilot where swift, certain, and measured sanctions for any and all probation violations are applied in an effort to strengthen compliance with supervision and treatment plans, and to reduce recidivism. All Project HOPE/MORR probationers attend a warning hearing and participate in random drug testing. Sanctions apply to any and all alleged violations of probation, such as missed appointments, failed drug tests, or noncompliance with any condition of probation. All violations result in a swiftly scheduled hearing before a judge, usually the same day as the alleged violation. If the violation is supported, the concept is to use immediate and brief jail stays in lieu of long-term conﬁnement. The goal is to change behavior through certain, more frequent, but less severe (i.e., more proportionate), consequences. Additional information is available from Deputy Commissioner for Programs, Michael Coelho, firstname.lastname@example.org.