The Boston Bar Association today announced that it will honor Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly of the Massachusetts District Court and Chief Justice Steven D. Pierce of the Housing Court with Citations of Distinguished Judicial Excellence at the BBA’s Law Day Dinner this evening at the Westin, Copley Place.
“Chief Justice Connolly and Chief Justice Pierce have distinguished themselves as leaders of their respective courts, dealing with the most immediate and pressing legal needs of our fellow citizens, but also as leaders in the effort to help the Trial Court Department determine how best to deliver justice when faced with a severe fiscal crisis,” said BBA President Jack Regan.
The District Court has jurisdiction over the full range of issues that affect ordinary people in their daily lives — from domestic violence to debt collection, mental health and small claims, misdemeanors, felonies, and motor vehicle appeals.
The Housing Court protects the rights of tenants, landlords, lenders and homeowners. It is one of the Commonwealth’s most innovative courts, through its extensive use of alternate dispute resolution and its Tenancy Preservation, Lawyer for a Day, and Information Station programs.
Two years ago, Chief Justice Mulligan, as the leader of the Trial Court, asked Chief Justice Connolly and Chief Justice Pierce to be the Co-Chairs of the Trial Court’s Fiscal Task Force. Their assignment was to analyze court operations and make recommendations about how the seven Departments of the Trial Court could make adjustments to live within the budget provided by the Legislature, while still providing access to justice.
Leading an interdepartmental group of Trial Court leaders for nearly two years, Chief Justices Connolly and Pierce have been the driving forces behind a system-wide effort to reduce expenses and improve efficiency in response to the fiscal crisis. Without their leadership, and the work of the 16 members of their Fiscal Task Force, disruptions in court sessions, staffing, and timeliness of decisions would likely have been as severe as has occurred in other states.
Thanks to the leadership of Chief Justices Connolly and Pierce, the Fiscal Task Force was able to provide Chief Justice Mulligan with sound recommendations that – so far – have allowed the Trial Court to operate with reduced staffing, by using a hiring freeze and early retirement incentives, and limiting or eliminating services that were not essential.