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The 189th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 10: Chief justice and deputy court administrators; powers and duties

Section 10. Subject to the superintendence authority of the supreme judicial court as provided in section 3 of chapter 211, the chief justice and the deputy court administrator shall be responsible for the operation of their department, its clerks, other officers and employees subject to section 99 of chapter 276 and the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. To achieve sound operation of their department they shall have the following powers, authority and responsibilities, and shall allocate between themselves and the deputy court administrator primary responsibility for each in a manner that conforms to the division of responsibilities between the chief justice of the trial court and the court administrator under sections 9 and 9A of chapter 211B; provided, however, that any power specifically assigned to the chief justice in the subsections that follow shall be performed by the chief justice alone:

(i) the power to appoint, discipline, evaluate, transfer and define the duties of all non-judicial personnel within their department including special masters, court reporters, law clerks, temporary clerks and other support personnel consistent with the provisions of section 8 and 10A; provided, however, that they shall not have the power to appoint non-judicial personnel serving in the office of a clerk, recorder or register, but shall have the authority to discipline said clerks, recorders and registers and all other personnel in the offices of said clerks, recorders or registers, upon the raising of any dispute between a first justice and a clerk, recorder or register. Any person aggrieved by any decision of a chief justice or deputy court administrator under this paragraph may appeal such decision to the chief justice of the trial court; provided, further, that no person holding a commission as a clerk of court, whether elected or appointed, a register of probate or a recorder shall be assigned under the provisions of this paragraph outside the department, division or court to which he is elected or appointed without his consent. Any clerk aggrieved by any transfer or assignment of himself or personnel of his office under this paragraph shall appeal to the court administrator who shall forthwith hear and determine the matter;

(ii) the chief justice shall have the power to assign or to transfer justices appointed to his department of the trial court to any particular court within that department for such period or periods of time as the chief justice deems necessary; the chief justice shall also have the power to appoint regional justices and to define their duties. Any justice aggrieved by an order of the chief justice assigning or transferring him to a particular court other than that to which he was appointed, may appeal the assignment or transfer to the chief justice of the trial court who shall forthwith determine the matter;

(iii) the authority, prior to making assignments or transfers referred to in paragraph (ii) of this section, to ascertain, if they so desire, the respective preferences of the justices as to which court or courts, if any, they wish to be assigned or transferred.

(iv) the power to suspend any particular session in any court within their department; the power to move sessions so that the availability of court personnel is consistent with the needs of individual courts; and to make such periodic adjustments in the scheduling and locations of court sessions as are deemed necessary for the proper administration of justice;

(v) the chief justice shall have the power to transfer cases and matters from a court to any other court within his department, to consolidate cases;

(vi) notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, when necessary to ensure the proper administration of justice, transfer employees of their department to serve where needed; impose discipline on such officers and employees, including dismissal and suspension with or without pay; provided, however, that they may, upon reasonable notice, temporarily transfer nonjudicial personnel within their department, divisions and places for holding court, and in no event shall any such transfer be more than a reasonable distance from the place where such personnel is employed unless the employee so transferred shall consent thereto; provided, further, that such transfer of the employee shall not be for more than 90 days, but such transfer may be extended for 3 consecutive 90 day periods, provided that notice is given to the house and senate committees on ways and means upon each extension, including the employee's position, duties, and reason for the transfer, but such transfer shall not exceed 360 consecutive days. The first justice of the court to where the employee is transferred shall provide the first justice of the court to where the employee is permanently assigned with appropriate personnel records and records of activities, including records necessary for the payment of compensation; and provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to a clerk or clerk-magistrate, whether elected or appointed by the governor, register of probate or recorder;

(vii) the authority to visit any court within their department;

(viii) the authority to call conferences of any or all of the justices within their department;

(ix) the responsibility to compile a comprehensive written report of the operation of their department of the trial court at the conclusion of each fiscal year, and shall deliver said report together with recommendations to the chief justice of the trial court and the court administrator on or before October 15 of the ensuing fiscal year. They shall make such additional reports as may from time to time be required by the chief justice of the trial court or the court administrator;

(x) the responsibility to perform such further administrative duties as may from time to time be assigned by the chief justice of the trial court or the court administrator;

(xi) the responsibility, annually, to prepare and submit to the court administrator a budget estimate, in detail, for the ordinary maintenance of their department of the trial court, and all revenue therefrom, as provided in clause (5) of the first paragraph of section 3 of chapter 29. Said budget estimate shall include judicial salaries and the salaries of employees within said department and shall include estimates of all sums which the commonwealth is obligated to pay under the provisions of chapter 29A;

(xii) the authority, upon receipt of an appropriated sum, to administer that appropriation;

(xiii) the responsibility for the administrative management of the personnel, staff services and business of their departments, including financial administration and budget preparation, record-keeping, information systems and statistical controls, purchasing, planning, construction, case flow management, assignments of sittings of the justices of their respective departments, including justices not appointed thereto but assigned, for the time being therein. They may delegate their responsibilities and powers hereunder and as otherwise provided by law to a justice, regional justice, first justice, court officer, clerk, or any employee of their department, for such period of time and with such limitations as he may impose, whenever in their opinion such delegation of authority will expedite the judicial business of the department; provided, however, that in the exercise or delegation of their powers, they shall in all cases act in a manner consistent with the policies and procedures established by the court administrator and the chief justice of the trial court;

(xiv) the power to set the days and hours during which courts within their department shall be open for business;

(xv) the chief justice shall have the responsibility to sit and perform judicial duties, within his department, during the course of the calendar year;

(xvi) the chief justice shall have the power to discipline any justice assigned or appointed to his department who refuses or fails to comply with any order concerning the performance of his duties as justice or any other lawful order of the chief justice or deputy court administrator of his department; provided, however, that the chief justice shall also have the power to require any justice assigned or appointed to his department to participate in a judicial enhancement program in response to any action of such justice which brings the judiciary into disrepute, which lowers the public confidence in the judiciary or which impedes the administration of justice. A justice who is disciplined by the chief justice may appeal the imposition of discipline to the chief justice of the trial court. Any justice aggrieved by decision of the chief justice of the trial court may appeal said decision to the supreme judicial court. Consistent with the provisions of chapter 211C, all proceedings, documents, and other matters relating to such discipline shall at all times be confidential and not open to the public unless the justice appealing the disciplinary action agrees that the same shall not be confidential, or unless the supreme judicial court determines that it is in the public interest for any such proceeding, document, or other matter relating to such discipline to be made public. All disciplinary action imposed by a chief justice, whether consensual or not, shall be reported to the supreme judicial court by the chief justice; and

(xvii) the power, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, to transfer cases between courts consistent with the efficient distribution of caseload and workload within said department;

The chief justice and deputy court administrator shall likewise allocate between themselves in a manner on which they agree and subject to the approval of the chief justice of the trial court and the court administrator, the powers assigned to the chief justice pursuant to section 6 of chapter 29A; sections 4 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, and section 16 of chapter 185C; section 13 of said chapter 211B; section 19 of chapter 212; sections 23, 23A, 23C, 28, 29, 29A, 29B, 29C, 29D, 29E, 29F, 29G, 29H, 29I, 29J, 29K, 29L and section 42 of chapter 217; sections 9, 15, 19D, 43E, 58, 67 and section 70 of chapter 218; section 6 of chapter 220; sections 62B, 91 and section 99 of chapter 221; section 1B of chapter 279 or any other general or special law that are not inherently judicial in nature.

The chief justice and deputy court administrator shall be provided with suitable offices.