Monthly Archives: November 2018

Quick Takes from the BBA on the 2018 Election

From a policy issue that has been central to the BBA’s recent advocacy efforts, to races all over the state, we wanted to provide our members with a roundup of outcomes in this year’s election that are relevant to the BBA’s work and to civic life in Massachusetts generally.

Yes on 3:

Question 3—a referendum asking whether to maintain the state law that includes transgender individuals among those protected from discrimination in public accommodations—passed easily, earning nearly 70% of the vote. The BBA lent its strong support to the “Yes on 3” effort—just as we had for the original law, which was enacted in 2016. The BBA joined the broad Freedom for All Massachusetts coalition to retain these civil-rights protections at their first statewide electoral test, and ensure that a strong message was sent to other states. Yes on 3’s victory marks the first time these kinds of legal protections for transgender individuals have been upheld by a popular vote, and represents a momentous victory for transgender rights in Massachusetts.

We are extremely grateful to the campaign’s leaders and organizers, and to our members who volunteered at Yes on 3: Freedom for All Massachusetts canvassing events over the past several months. We can’t wait to celebrate the hard work and success of the Yes on 3 Campaign at this year’s Beacon Award.

District Attorney Races

Rachael Rollins was elected Suffolk County District Attorney, and Andrea Harrington won the race in Berkshire County – the first women to ever hold either of these seats. Incumbents in those counties, Dan Conley and David Capeless, each departed shortly before the end of their term. Rollins, a former BBA Council member, has named current BBA Vice President Marty Murphy of Foley Hoag and current co-chair of our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Section, Natashia Tidwell of Hogan Lovells, to co-chair her transition team, as she prepares to take office in January. Locally, Middlesex DA Marian Ryan was among the remainder of incumbents who were re-elected, bringing to three the number of female district attorneys (of 11).

State and Congressional Election

All statewide elected officials won re-election easily, and Ayanna Pressley represents the only change to the state’s Congressional delegation. She will replace Michael Capuano, becoming the first black woman sent to D.C. from Massachusetts. While there will be many new faces in the Legislature as the result of natural turn-over, the party balance will be only slightly different, with Democrats padding their veto-proof majorities in each house.

Looking Ahead

With new faces in the State Legislature, we will be paying close attention to the appointment of chairs to the various legislative committees in the coming months. In particular, there will need to be new chairs for each house’s Ways & Means Committee. And finally, all members of the Governor’s Council, the body tasked with confirming gubernatorial nominations to the judiciary, won re-election.

Stay tuned for more updates on how this election may impact our policy priorities in the coming year!

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association

Immigration Update: BBA Submits Comments in Opposition to Proposed Federal Regulations

We recently updated you on a few proposed changes to immigration policies, including proposed regulations that would dramatically alter the protections governing the processing and treatment of immigrant youth. In line with our Principles and past positions, the BBA is submitting comments in opposition to the proposal. You can learn more about the proposed regulations, the BBA’s comments, and a few other immigration developments that we’re keeping a close eye on below.

Flores Agreement Background

In 1997, a settlement agreement was reached in Flores v. Reno, a class action lawsuit filed in 1985 on behalf of unaccompanied undocumented children, challenging Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (“INS”) policies governing children’s release and the conditions children and youth experienced during immigration-related custody. The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) includes many protections for unaccompanied immigrant children (UAC), including: 1) a general policy favoring release from detention and family reunification; 2) detention in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the age and special needs of the child when required; 3) the right to a bond hearing; 4) access to humane conditions; and 5) notice of legal rights. In 2002, the Homeland Security Act (HSA) transferred the care and custody of UACs from the INS to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Settlement (ORR), which assumed the responsibility to comply with the mandates of the FSA. In 2008, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act elaborated on the ORR’s responsibility, and both the HSA and TVPRA contain “savings clauses” preserving children’s rights under the FSA.

Since 1997, the counsel for plaintiffs in Flores have had to intervene on a number of occasions to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement, including in relation to prolonged detention, lack of access to bond hearings, and poor detention conditions. The government has regularly sought to avoid or change the protections in Flores, resulting in a few developments of note in recent years:

  • In 2015, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee court held (later affirmed by the 9th Circuit) that accompanied children detained have no fewer rights than unaccompanied children, and the FSA applies both to minors who are unaccompanied and those accompanied by their parents.
  • In 2017, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued an order enforcing the agreement, after finding that the ORR was in breach by denying unaccompanied children the right to a bond hearing.
  • In 2018, the DOJ filed a request to modify the FSA, asking for limited emergency relief so that ICE could detain undocumented minors who arrived with their parent or guardian in ICE family residential facilities, and exempt ICE family residential facilities from the Agreement’s state licensure requirement. Judge Gee denied the request, saying that it was “a thinly-veiled motion for reconsideration without any meaningful effort to comply with the requirements…”

The FSA was originally set to sunset in 2003, but the Government thereafter stipulated to continue the agreement until it published regulations implementing it, and last month, DHS and HHS published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that would “implement” the FSA, claiming it would “satisfy the basic purpose of the FSA in ensuring that all juveniles in the government’s custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” Despite this claim, the proposed rule would significantly alter the current policies in place under the FSA. The areas of particular concern are raised in our comments and discussed in more detail below.

BBA Comments

In October, BBA Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Steering Committee raised the proposed regulations and inquired as to whether the BBA would submit comment. Following analysis, and in light of our recently-approved Immigration Principles and other relevant past positions, the Association is submitting comments in opposition to the proposed regulations, as they would contravene the purpose of the FSA and endanger the rights, liberty, and well-being of immigrants, especially immigrant children. A special thanks goes to our Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section for alerting us to the regulation, and to our Immigration Law Section and Immigration Working Group for help reviewing the comments.

Our Principles recognize that all people, whether entering with or without authorization must be treated fairly and humanely. The stakes in immigration proceedings are incredibly high, as our report noted:

The outcomes of this process can have life-changing effects on individuals, including with regards to their ability to access the basic necessities of life, remain united with their families, and even to avoid torture, persecution, or death. It is therefore imperative to protect the Constitutional rights of individuals in removal and other immigration proceedings.

And the stakes aren’t just high for immigrants and their families – our whole country will suffer if certain individuals are not able to access the processes and protections they are entitled to:

When, however, the federal or state government or members of the public target a population and limit or seek to limit that group’s access to judicial or administrative forums, it creates a vulnerable subclass, undermining our system of democracy and the Constitution.

You can read more about our Immigration Principles and past positions reference below here. And you can read our full comments on the proposed Flores regulations here. Those areas that are most concerning, and which our comments highlight include:

Indefinite Detention of Children

The Second BBA Immigration Principle provides that “no person’s rights or human dignity should be devalued on the basis of immigration or citizenship status.” In elaborating on that point, the Report urges that all individuals, even those who enter the country without authorization, be treated humanely and fairly and that, as a result undocumented immigrants should not be detained while their legal claims to remain in the United States are resolved—at least absent extraordinary circumstances, such as if, for example, the individual in question presents a threat to public safety or a serious flight risk. This is why we are especially concerned about the proposals in the regulation that would allow for the indefinite detention of children. The FSA specifically mandates a general favoring of release over detention and that minors be released from custody “without unnecessary delay,” in recognition of the “particular vulnerabilities of youth.” The extensive and long-term social, mental, and physical harms experienced by minors held in prolonged detention are well-documented, and that’s why we joined the ABA and others in expressly noting that family detention was not the solution to family separation. Proven alternatives to detention do exist, and established release mechanisms and alternatives to pre-adjudication detention, such as community supervision and GPS monitoring, would be more consistent with justice and due process.

Detention Conditions and Oversight

In those instances when detention must occur, the same principles of fair and humane treatment must apply, and the BBA has long held that there must be policies in place to ensure that detention conditions are humane and that mechanisms exist to ensure proper oversight and accountability. These principles are also embodied in the Flores Agreement, which provides that minors must be held in facilities that are “safe and sanitary” and consistent with a “concern for the particular vulnerability of minors.” We are, then, also especially disturbed by the provisions in the proposal that may threaten the proper treatment of minors, deteriorate the conditions of detention, and weaken oversight of detention facilities.

For example, the proposed regulations would remove the current state-licensure requirement that requires the government to release children, when a parent or other family member is unavailable, to a facility licensed by a state child welfare agency program. Under the proposed rule, the government would be able to select its own auditors to review the conditions and treatment of facilities where children and parents are held together. The government lacks both the expertise that the state agencies bring and the impartiality necessary to ensure that proper oversight occurs. Additionally, the proposed regulations give much wider discretion to DHS and HHS to suspend critical protections for minors in cases of “emergency.” The proposal lists delay of a meal as an example of one such provision that could be excused in the case of an emergency. The breadth and flexibility of the proposed definition is deeply concerning, given that it could legitimize the denial of necessities, such as food, to children. Under the new rule, there is no guarantee that facilities will be safe and sanitary or that minors will be treated with dignity and respect.

Continual UAC Status Redeterminations

The BBA has also been outspoken in support of strengthening and improving due process and other safeguards; our Third Principles reads: “the constitutional right to due process and equal protection, guaranteed to every person regardless of immigration or citizenship status, must be protected and enforced.” We’ve also long supported measures to ensure these protections are guaranteed for those individuals determined to be an “unaccompanied alien child” (UAC), which comes with a number of important legal protections. In past practice, this status has not been reconsidered once established, but the proposed regulation would codify continual redeterminations, providing that officials will make a determination of UAC status “each time they encounter the alien.” Ensuring the UAC status finding remains in place allows for consistency and predictability for both minors and the government throughout the legal process. That’s why we support revoking of status only in instances of fraud or misrepresentation. The ability of the government to suddenly revoke significant safeguards, in the middle of a legal process that depends on the consistency of a previously recognized status, raises due process concerns and could incentivize intentional case delays to avoid granting the additional legal protections, or other unnecessary and intrusive tactics that would allow the government to continually reassess and re-determine a child’s status.

Access to Bond Hearings

Our fourth and final principle states that “Every person should have the full and meaningful ability to exercise their rights and to access justice through the legal system regardless of immigration or citizenship status, level of income, or economic circumstance.” More specifically, the report explains the importance of providing access to a fair immigration process with independent judges, a principle that is currently embodied in the FSA, as it requires that any minor in deportation proceeding be afforded a hearing before an immigration judge unless the minor refuses such a hearing. This provision was reaffirmed in 2017, when the Ninth Circuit expressly rejected a claim that the DOJ does not have statutory authority to conduct a bond hearing under Flores.

The government, in the new proposed regulation, claims again that there is no statutory authority to conduct such hearings and instead institutes a dramatic change by removing the requirement for a bond hearing altogether. In its place, the proposal would introduce a new administrative proceeding by creating an HHS-run “independent hearing process” by which an HHS officer, rather than an immigration judge, would determine whether the child poses a danger to the community or a flight risk. This approach would remove the due process requirements that accompany an immigration court proceeding, and give the same entity tasked with holding the minor in custody the ability to make determinations about the minor’s release from custody, making it impossible to guarantee an independent process.

Additional Provisions of Concern

Finally, the comments list other areas of concern in the proposal, including:

  • Standards for Release on Parole: The proposed regulation removes an internal cross reference to parole-related provisions in 8 CFR 235.3(b), which would mean that minors placed in expedited removal would be held to the same strict standards for release on parole as adults. The FSA has been interpreted to allow children subject to expedited removal to be considered for release on parole on a case-by-case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit,” if the minor is not a security or flight risk. Here, again, the proposed regulation fails to consider the particular vulnerability of youth as required by the FSA.
  • Limits on Release: In addition, the proposal limits those adults to whom children can be released to a parent or legal guardian, despite the specific language of the FSA providing that a child in DHS custody can be released to a parent, a legal guardian, an adult relative, or an adult individual or entity designated by the parent or legal guardian. Given the previously mentioned and well-documented harms experienced by children held in detention, it is improper for the proposal to create more barriers to release.
  • Lack of proper standards for determining change in circumstances: The proposed regulation provides DHS the authority to take a child back into custody after having been released if there is a “material change in circumstances showing the child is an escape risk, danger to the community, or has a final order of removal.” On its face this provision complies with court requirements, but it fails to impose any specific burden on DHS to establish the material change. Without placing a burden on DHS in this manner, the process will be neither predictable nor fair, and could lead to the improper re-detention of minors with no meaningful way for them to challenge the decision.
  • Costs to the public of expanding family detention: Finally, the government failed, in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making, to properly weigh the costs and benefits related to the expansion of family detention. In 2014, the Government Accountability Office found that the costs of alternatives to detention were less than 7% of the costs associated with detention. All this suggests that the proposed regulations are not only inhumane and contrary to the purpose of the Flores Agreement, but are also fiscally irresponsible given the existence of alternatives to detention that have been proven to be safe, effective, and affordable.

For all of the above reasons, we hope the government will reconsider the provisions in the proposal which threaten the rights, dignity, safety, and well-being of immigrant youth. In the words of our Principles:

The BBA affirms the longstanding commitment of the American legal profession to advocate fiercely on behalf of the human dignity and human rights of all.

We hope you’ll join us by submitting your own comments here. You have until November 6 to do so.

Keeping the Flores protections in place is more important than ever in light of renewed talk of a family separation policy – which the BBA remains opposed to — and the deeply concerning rhetoric and tactics being deployed against those who may soon be seeking asylum at our border. We’ll continue to monitor these developments, including reports of an executive order related to asylum said to be due out next week. In the meantime, Boston Bar Foundation grantee organizations have compiled resources illustrating the devastating conditions that asylum-seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are fleeing, which you can access here and here.

The treatment of asylum-seekers and those arriving at our borders is, of course, only one of many immigration developments that we are watching closely. A few others include:

Proposed Regulations on Public Charge Determinations: We are also planning to comment on proposed regulations that would radically alter the definition of “public charge” for immigration inadmissibility purposes. The proposal could impact millions of immigrants and their families and have significant public health consequences. You can find more resources about the proposal on the Protecting Immigrant Families page, and if you wish to submit your own comments, guided by the information there, you have until December 10 to do so here. Stay tuned to learn more about how you can join our efforts!

Massachusetts Immigration Court Backlogs: This week, WBUR did a deep dive on the backlog of cases in Massachusetts immigration courts, noting a 76% spike in cases since President Trump took office. The Boston Bar Association Immigration Working Group report highlights just how crucial it is to have a well-functioning immigration court system – one that should be independent of the executive branch and thus, unlike the current one, free from political pressures. The current backlog further underscores the need for improvements in the immigration court system, as the lengthy wait times for adjudication have troubling implications for access to justice, particularly for victims of trauma who are seeking asylum and may be less able to accurately recall the details of their stories over time. Read more about why we are calling for a complete overhaul of our immigration court system here.

Birthright Citizenship: Finally, we are alarmed by reports of a proposed attempt to use an executive order to change a matter of well-settled constitutional law – birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment. We will be watching this matter closely and will continue to inform our members of further developments.

—Alexa Daniel
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

State of the Judiciary

Each October, our friends at the Massachusetts Bar Association host an event at the Adams Courthouse where the Chief Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court and the Trial Court, as well as the Trial Court Chief Administrator, offer remarks on the State of the Judiciary. We always enjoy this event for the insights these court leaders offer into their priorities for the coming year.

The speeches kicked off with Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the SJC taking stock of the good fortune we have in the Commonwealth, with a bar dedicated to the shared goal of the fair and efficient administration of justice and with leadership in the Legislature and the Executive who recognize the importance of an independent third branch of government. We were thrilled to hear Chief Gants cite the BBA’s Service Innovation Project on dismantling the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline as one example of the organized bar to improve our justice system. “I congratulate the BBA,” he said, “on recognizing the need for justice in a school principal’s office, to diminish the risk that the same student will later find himself or herself seeking justice in a juvenile or adult courtroom.”

But the Chief quickly turned his attention to a not-so-rosy part of the legal landscape: lawyer well-being. He is deeply concerned about a problem highlighted in the August 2017 Report of the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being: “Too many attorneys are struggling with serious health issues that are exacerbated, if not caused, by the way that law is practiced today.” Debt levels and billing requirements that both seem to rise inexorably over time, and the difficulty of working at the relentless pace of modern technology, add to pre-existing factors such as taking on the stress of clients and building a practice—all of it contributing to troublingly high rates of depression, anxiety, and problem drinking. Throw in concerns about the professional stigma associated with revealing these pressures, and it’s clear that the practice of law is under threat.

Chief Gants is already at work in addressing this issue, having tapped former SJC Margot Botsford to lead an interdisciplinary steering committee—one on which the BBA will be playing a leading role—that will “explore ways to reduce stress on attorneys, increase professional satisfaction, help restore work-life balance, and better support those who are confronting mental-health and substance-use disorders”. We will share their recommendations, which will likely build on the 44 proposed in the ABA report.

In making his point, Chief Gants cited former BBA President Richard Soden’s speech at our Annual Meeting this fall: “He recalled that in 1972 a prominent rain-making attorney at his law firm took him aside and told him that it was important that he take care of his clients, but it was equally important that he take care of his family, his health, and his community. We need to make sure that this advice is bred in the bone of every lawyer, and we need to create the conditions in our legal profession that allow every lawyer to follow that advice. I do not know if we can pull this off, but I damn well know that we need to try.”

Next, the Chief touched on criminal-justice reform, praising the landmark law enacted this year—and singling out Judiciary Committee co-chairs Sen. Will Brownsberger and Rep. Claire Cronin—but adding that the work remains unfinished. He pledged to continue “re-envisioning what it means to be a probation officer,” to help reduce recidivism and promote recovery and rehabilitation. As he put it, “Criminal justice reform 2.0 must refocus on re-entry and include the funding needed to give defendants a fair and reasonable chance of succeeding upon release.”

Finally, Chief Gants addressed what he sees as “a threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law [that] has reached our Commonwealth,” where our own Constitution provides, “It is the right of every citizen to be tried by judges as free, impartial and independent as the lot of humanity will admit.” He put the issue in context by citing debates over judicial elections in 1853’s constitutional convention and applauded the state for maintaining the appointment system ever since.

The Chief acknowledged that judges should of course be held accountable, and he alluded to the recent separation of a Superior Court judge from the bench for misconduct as evidence that the judiciary is capable of imposing discipline on its own. Nevertheless, he said, “it is crucial to distinguish between judicial misconduct that merits discipline, and mere disagreement with a judge’s exercise of discretion within the bounds of what the law allows.”

It is fair game to criticize a judge’s decision. And if you do not think judges hear and are sensitive to such criticism and to being reversed by an appellate court, I can tell you from personal experience that you are wrong. But threatening judges with removal solely because of a mistake or an unpopular decision threatens the independence of the judiciary and, more importantly, threatens our constitutional obligation to apply the law equally and fairly to every litigant … If we are to provide every person fair and impartial justice in our courts, we must allow judges to make decisions based on their best judgment of the law and the facts, unburdened by any fear that a controversial decision may jeopardize their careers.

Here, the BBA stands four-square with the Chief, and the bench as a whole, in support of their independence and in opposition to unwarranted calls for impeachment. Chief Gants pointed out that the current appointment process—in which the BBA plays a role through our representatives on the Joint Bar Committee—has produced highly-qualified judges throughout the judiciary:

I will gladly compare the quality of our judges to those of any state in the nation. They are selected through a judicial nominating process that is rigorous, fair, and historically nonpartisan, and nominated by Governors who have taken very seriously their obligation to maintain excellence in the judiciary.

Next, Chief Justice Paula Carey of the Trial Court spelled out her four primary areas of focus this year:

  1. Judicial independence

Picking up where Chief Gants left off, Chief Carey discussed what she labeled the “increasing intensity” with which “public criticism and personal attacks” have been directed at individual judges. For her part, she is leading an effort to improve the ways the Trial Court responds in such instances and to re-evaluate “what we can and can’t say when judges are criticized”, and she thanked the bar for its support and pledged to work together. She also went into the Court’s larger-scale work “to increase public awareness and confidence the judicial system.” “Our goal,” the Chief said, “is to share information and discuss issues related to a free press and an independent and impartial judiciary in furtherance of an effort to build relationships of respect and understanding.”

  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Here, Chief Carey reviewed the Trial Court’s “sustained effort over the last several years to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in our system by integrating leadership principles and awareness in all aspects of court operations,” highlighting the recent Cultural Appreciation Week, held for the first time this past September. The Court must reflect the communities it serves, she asserted, if it is to earn and maintain public trust and confidence.

  1. Specialty Courts

As Chief Carey stated, “The Trial Court of today is not the Trial Court of yesterday,” having become a “default mental-health and substance-use coordinator. Our system has had to adapt and employ evidenced-based practices in order to address the needs of justice-involved individuals.” And much of that work on behalf of those in need of services is now done through the 45 specialty courts statewide (double the number of five years ago) and through Community Corrections Centers. She cited data from the Massachusetts Probation Service showing drug-court graduates with a greatly reduced recidivism rate and used the occasion to announce a $1.5 million grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to coordinate a multi-disciplinary initiative with the courts of the six New England states, promising, “We will partner with the National Center for State Courts and Indiana University on this three-year effort to leverage data and share strategies to combat the opioid epidemic.”

  1. Section 35

That epidemic is, sadly, driving an increase in “Section 35” petitions for the court to order involuntary commitments of people with substance-use disorders—more than 10,000 in each of the past three years, according to Chief Carey, who pointed to a new commission (on which she serves) to study law’s efficacy and consider appropriate care and treatment.

By way of closing, she thanked the bar for its help in delivering justice with dignity:

It is only with all of you–District Attorneys, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Attorney General, the Mass. Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, all the local and affinity Bar associations–with your individual representation, the programs you sponsor, staff and fund, and your advocacy for the Trial Court, that we succeed. We share a background of legal education, training and advocacy that allows us to do this important work. Please know that I never take the quality of representation or the good will of Massachusetts Bar for granted.

Then, the newest member of the judiciary leadership troika, Trial Court Administrator Jonathan Williams, took to the podium to deliver his second annual remarks, starting by praising the Court’s innovative strategic plans that helped draw him here from the North Carolina court system. Administrator Williams spoke of the importance to him of thinking through “how we can best achieve our expansive vision of justice.”

Key to that is embracing change, “whether the changes are driven by new technology, new services, or new statutory requirements and public expectations. The Office of Court Management can be so engrossed with day-to-day operations, that it is difficult to step back and rethink how to deliver services to the courts. But we are doing exactly that.” Not an easy task, given the inherently cautious nature of lawyers and judges. “Add to that an organization adapted to the resource-deprived days of the Great Recession, and you have an incremental approach to the planning of fundamental, system-wide investments” when a bolder and more holistic approach is called for.

He went on to put the spotlight on several areas where that change is underway:

  • expanded availability of interpreter services, to meet the demands of growing numbers of court users with limited English proficiency
  • steady progress toward e-courts…
    • Plans are in place to accelerate the pace toward mandating civil case e-filing and e-service in the coming year. “The vision here is not just for filing; it is for working from an electronic record throughout the life of the case … Far fewer shopping carts of manila folders will need to be wheeled around the courthouse, and far fewer loaded into vehicles and driven to various housing and juvenile courts that sit away from the Clerk-Magistrates’ offices.”
    • The goal of e-courts is not limited to the civil side, and police-record management systems are being built out to support a mandatory Electronic Application for Criminal Complaints, in most instances, as of July 1, 2019.
    • In June, the Court completed the roll-out of e-pay capability for criminal fines and fees, and small-claims filing can now be conducted entirely on-line.
    • By next June, Probation will complete the roll-out of its first electronic case management system that will enable better data collection, supervision and follow up.
    • And, to deal with the risks these steps engender, the courts have hired a Chief Information Security Officer to prioritize cyber-security.
  • a comprehensive technology capital-bond request to the Legislature, in support of major near-term investments for the long-term payoff of the transition to a digital environment
    • This will add to the $80 million of projects already underway this fiscal year, led by the new Regional Justice Center in Lowell, on schedule, on budget, and expected to be finished at the end of 2019 and occupied at the start of 2020.
  • improved recruiting and talent development, as part of an ongoing restructuring of the Human Resources department
    • HR is also increasing its focus on wellness and benefits, to boost employee morale.
  • building on recent progress toward diversity of the Trial Court work-force, highlighted by a new report showing that overall racial and ethnic diversity increased from 23% to 25% this past year alone, reflecting the state’s demographics

“We are setting our sights higher,” Administrator Williams concluded, in the belief that “the Judiciary’s work deserves an operational infrastructure based on best practices. And that perspective and commitment now form the foundation for our ambitious agenda … It is a wonderful time of excitement and progress in the Commonwealth’s Trial Court.”

We look forward to partnering with the Trial Court on that agenda throughout the year.

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association