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Specialized court sessions

Learn about special program offerings in the Massachusetts Specialty Courts.

Massachusetts has several types of specialty court sessions:

There are also additional specialty courts sessions in some locations.

    Family Drug Court (Franklin County)

    The Franklin Probate and Family Court in Greenfield has a special Family Drug Court session to help families that have a parent who is struggling with substance use disorder. It is based on the concept that families are systems, and that one member’s illness has profound effects on other family members. This voluntary, phased program gives 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.

    If the parties agree to participate in the program, the underlying case – custody, guardianship, divorce, and/or visitation – is put on hold while the family gets treatment. The court will provide 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 gives divorcing and separating parents the chance to resolve their differences in a child-centered way and with less conflict.

    Every family in the FRSC receives help from a team. 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 moves forward through a series of conferences where all members of the team – the parents, their lawyers, and the judge – work together to solve 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 
    • Mediation

    The FRSC is available for parents with or without lawyers. Interested parents and lawyers should contact the Hampshire Probate and Family Court’s Probation Department.

    Firearm Sessions

    There are 2 firearm sessions in Massachusetts.

    The criminal defense bar and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office have agreed that cases that involve possession of illegal or unlicensed firearms are transferred to the Central Division from other divisions of the Boston Municipal Court. The case is transferred immediately after arraignment, and ballistics or other forms of forensic evidence are processed quickly under the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The court closely monitors these cases for the earliest possible resolution of discovery and pretrial motions so they can prepare these cases for trial or other final disposition.  

    The Lynn District Court has a specialized firearm session that focuses on quickly making a final judgment on firearm-related criminal offenses. Quickly resolving firearm charges is considered essential to reestablishing public safety and confidence in the communities the court serves. The goal of the Lynn firearm session is to reduce 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 (Superior Court)

    The Superior Court Business Litigation Session (BLS) provides a setting for complex business and commercial disputes that will benefit from targeted, collaborative case management. The BLS is made up of 2 full time sessions that work to resolve commercial disputes and other complex cases quickly and efficiently.  

    The BLS hears cases such as: 

    • Shareholder derivative claims 
    • Business torts 
    • Intellectual property and insurance coverage disputes 
    • Claims stemming from asset sales, corporate mergers, and restrictive covenants in employment agreements 
    • Matters brought by the Attorney General on behalf of consumer classes
    • Actions brought by private parties alleging unfair and deceptive business practices

    To learn about this specialized court session, visit the Superior Court Business Litigation Session page.

    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 are taken for all probation violations in order to help probationers follow 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 all alleged probation violations, such as: 

    • Missed appointments 
    • Failed drug tests 
    • Not following probation conditions 

    After a violation, you will have a hearing with a judge, usually on the same day. If the judge is satisfied that you violated your probation conditions, the court will use immediate, brief jail stays instead of long-term confinement. The goal is to change behavior through certain, more frequent, but less severe (i.e., more proportionate), consequences. Please contact Deputy Commissioner for Programs Michael Coelho at michael.coelho@jud.state.ma.us for more information.

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