Due to the current increase in positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts and the risk of person-to-person transmission of the virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and based on medical guidance, it is hereby ORDERED pursuant to my authority as set forth in G.L. c. 211B, § 9 as follows:
- Remote court operations shall be implemented wherever possible. Courts may continue to hold in-person proceedings in matters where a virtual proceeding is not practicable or would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights.
- All Trial Court managers, including Clerks, Clerk-Magistrates, Registers of Probate, the Recorder of the Land Court, and the Commissioner of Probation shall reduce the number of office staff working in-person to no more than 50% of the total number of office staff at a time and should separate their office staff into not less than two teams that will alternate their time working in-person and remotely as deemed necessary by the manager, Clerk, Clerk-Magistrate, Register of Probate, Recorder of the Land Court, or the Commissioner of Probation. The Security Department, Facilities Department and the Electronic Monitoring Unit and Warrant Management Unit of the Massachusetts Probation Service are exempted from this policy. Those employees who are working remotely or who are on skeleton status are expected to be available during work hours, and to the extent they are able, should check their email and voicemail messages and respond accordingly. Those on administrative leave are exempt from the remote work requirement. Trial Court employees and managers shall follow the internal guidance issued by the Human Resources Department concerning remote work, which may be updated as necessary.
Massachusetts trial courts will remain physically open to the public to conduct business and will operate with regard for the health and safety of court users and Trial Court personnel. Access to Massachusetts state courthouses will be governed by the Supreme Judicial Court Fourth Order Regarding Public Access to State Courthouses & Court Facilities, any orders issued by the Supreme Judicial Court supplementing or superseding that order, and any orders issued by the Trial Court supplementing orders issued by the Supreme Judicial Court. In the event of a temporary courthouse closure, any order set to expire during the closure of the courthouse shall automatically be extended until the matter can be addressed by the court.
This order temporarily suspends and supersedes Trial Court Emergency Administrative Order 20-11: Order Supplementing the Supreme Judicial Court Third Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic. Additionally, any provisions of standing orders issued by the court departments concerning court operations are temporarily suspended until further order. Notwithstanding the temporary suspension of these inconsistent provisions of departmental standing orders, a departmental Chief Justice or the Commissioner of Probation may provide additional directives or guidance as to specific issues. This order is intended to be consistent with the First Amendment to the Seventh Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic entered by the Supreme Judicial Court on December 31, 2021. This order is temporary and may be modified or rescinded at any time, as necessary, to address the fluctuating circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic.