Massachusetts chief justice says the courts are performing well, despite tight budgets

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland said today that the state’s court system is performing well in a climate of fiscal austerity.

“This year, although our budget is tight, we are beginning to reverse the drain on personnel that resulted from a multi-year hiring freeze,” Ireland said during his annual address to the state’s legal community at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. “We are hopeful that the worst is behind us, and that we can start the process of addressing critical staffing needs for our courts.”

He also said he has worked to build relationships in the legislative and executive branches, which control the court system’s budget, during his tenure as chief justice.

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“This has been a two-way learning process, and I believe they have heard me as I continue to emphasize how important a properly funded court system is to the well-being of everyone in the Commonwealth,” he said.

Ireland also praised members of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which hosted today’s event, for their support for court funding, and he lauded court staffers across the state for their work.

In addition, he discussed planned technological initiatives, including a pilot e-filing system, as well as the Judicial Youth Corps program, which offers courthouse internships to high school students.

“It is a great way to build bridges to our youth,” Ireland said.

He did not address the scandal at the now-closed drug lab in Jamaica Plain, which is expected to burden the court system with defendants seeking to have their sentences stayed or thrown out due to tainted evidence.

He did, however, give a nod to his colleagues on the SJC bench.

“Justices, I mean it when I say, ‘I couldn’t do this without you,’” he said.