Massachusetts State House.
Boston Bar Journal

One Mission: Justice with Dignity and Speed

September 18, 2013
| Fall 2013, Vol. 57, #4

by Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula Carey

Voice of the Judiciary

headshot CJ CareyI am deeply honored, excited and humbled to have been chosen as Chief Justice of the Trial Court.  My appointment at this point in the history of the Trial Court is a unique opportunity to help define the new position of Chief Justice and to establish the framework for the future governance of the Trial Court by partnering with the Court Administrator and the Trial Court Chief Justices.  I look forward to collaborating and working to develop policies and programs to support and maintain a vibrant, innovative system of justice that inspires public trust and confidence.

The new governance structure teams the Chief Justice with the Court Administrator, so that we can lead the Trial Court with one voice.  Court Administrator Harry Spence and I are working in a spirit of collaboration, confidence, and teamwork to provide the system with strong and effective leadership.

These are exciting times for the Massachusetts judiciary.  I believe we have the energy, enthusiasm and willingness to embrace the changes required for the delivery of justice in the 21st century.   My foundation has always been energy, enthusiasm, passion and commitment.    Since I was young I have wanted to make a difference – a human difference.

When I began practicing law, court employees often asked if I was from Belmont, and the question told me where the conversation was going.  Lawyers and court employees regaled me with stories about my father, who taught at Belmont High School for many years.  They described the long-lasting effect my dad had on their lives or the lives of their children.  One Probation Officer described how he teaches my father’s message to his children to this day — you have got to work hard and have passion and desire for life in all that you do.  I am fortunate to have experienced that message from my dad throughout my life and it is the foundation for who I am and what I do.

We recently rolled out the Trial Court’s Strategic Plan, which is the blueprint for our future.  The success of this rollout depends on all of us, both inside and outside the system.  This is a plan to be proud of and one to embrace, a plan to create a system that matches our quality decisions with quality in structure and operations — One Mission: Justice with Dignity and Speed.

The development of our Strategic Plan was spearheaded by a Process Steering Committee comprised of employees from all levels of the Trial Court.  They were tremendously dedicated to their task and reached out extensively to other Trial Court employees, the bar, the legislature, the executive branch and other key constituencies who work and interact with the courts.  The Process Steering Committee worked with the departmental Chief Justices, the Chief Justice of the Trial Court, and the Court Administrator to finalize the plan.  We are actively on our way to making our Strategic Plan a reality.  This new challenge is exciting and stands to push our Courts to heights we have never reached before.  Expanded collaborations between court divisions, across departments and functions, and with external stakeholders will be fostered and encouraged.  We will put systems in place to make that happen and we will celebrate successes and recognize accomplishments.  Communication is key going forward.  We need to have a transparent organization that is clear about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  Innovation and excellence should be the norm.  High performance will be encouraged and recognized as we set the standard for continuous improvement.

The past few years have presented significant challenges due to the economy and other factors.  I firmly believe we have a talented work force that is truly dedicated to the delivery of justice and to addressing the plight of those who come to our courts seeking help.  Although sometimes not considered as such, the Trial Court is often a last haven for those who have nowhere else to turn.  We frequently must create order out of chaos in the lives of those who come to our courts.

Today, society expects more from us than simply adjudicating cases, although that function is certainly primary.  As a court system we must do more to help address underlying problems that bring people to us in the first place.  Recurring issues such as substance abuse, mental health and the residual effects of battle on veterans require that we collaborate with service providers to help break these  cycles.  Existing specialty courts are being examined for their efficacy and will be expanded, driven by evidence-based practices.

I consider the bar an integral partner in our delivery of justice.  We could not have continued to deliver quality justice during the past few years as effectively as we have without the support and assistance of the bar.  Consistent collaboration between the bar and the Trial Court gives Massachusetts its leadership status in bench/bar relations.  I eagerly begin my role as Chief Justice in partnership with the bar, as we work together to help others.

We have much work ahead and I am confident that we will achieve greater recognition for Massachusetts – not only for the quality of our decision making, but also for the efficient delivery of justice with dignity and speed.  It may already be clear, but I want to emphasize my passion for the work of the Trial Court and its importance to society.  We have a noble purpose and a noble mission.

Hon. Paula M. Carey is Chief Justice of the Trial Court.  She was appointed to that position on July 16, 2013.  Prior to that, she was the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court, appointed on October 2, 2007.  She was appointed an Associate Justice of the Norfolk Probate and Family Court in 2001.