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February 27, 2024 Clouds | 59°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 9A: Employees of chief justice for administration and management; powers and duties

Section 9A. The court administrator, subject to the superintendence power of the supreme judicial court as provided in section 3 of chapter 211 and in consultation with the chief justice of the trial court, shall have general superintendence of the administration of the trial court, including, without limitation, the improvement of the administration of such courts and the securing of their proper and efficient administration.

The court administrator shall be the administrative head of the trial court of the commonwealth. The court administrator, in consultation with the chief justice of the trial court, shall periodically prepare and submit to the chief justice of the supreme judicial court an estimate, in detail, for the ordinary maintenance of the entire trial court, and all revenue therefrom, as provided in clause (5) of the first paragraph of section 3 of chapter 29. Said estimate shall include judicial salaries and the salaries of all officers and employees within the trial court and shall include estimates of all sums which the commonwealth is obligated to pay under the provisions of chapter 29A.

In order to achieve the ends stated in this section, the court administrator shall be responsible for the management of court personnel, facilities, administration, security, and court business and shall, subject to the terms of applicable collective bargaining agreements, have the authority necessary to carry out these responsibilities including:—

(i) the responsibility, upon the request of the supreme judicial court, to provide financial management assistance to said court including review of the budget requests and information as submitted by the department chiefs, to make recommendations thereon and otherwise to assist the court in its budgetary preparations;

(ii) the responsibility to provide the departments of the trial court with technical assistance concerning recordkeeping, auditing and computers, and with support services, such as computerized legal research, stenographic, electronic and video recordation methods and telephone-based interpretation services;

(iii) the responsibility consistent with section 8 of chapter 211B to provide personnel management, including promulgation of job classifications, establishment of system wide personnel policies and hiring practices and the authority to act as collective bargaining agent on behalf of the trial court;

(iv) the authority to approve expenditures for all libraries maintained by the departments of the trial court;

(v) the authority to coordinate the development and maintenance of, and technical assistance for, information systems;

(vi) the responsibility to provide facilities management, including provision of maintenance, equipment and security, and, in consultation with the chief justice of the trial court, the responsibility to coordinate with the division of capital asset management and maintenance regarding construction, leasing, repair and designing of facilities, and the responsibility to plan for reallocation of court jurisdictional lines; this provision is to be construed in conjunction with section 6 of chapter 29A and section 17 of chapter 211B;

(vii) the authority to hear and resolve interdepartmental disputes or disagreements between or among the deputy court administrators of the various departments of the trial court, including but not limited to, disputes regarding transferring non-judicial personnel in order to facilitate the efficient administration of justice;

(viii) the responsibility to provide administrative management to the office of the jury commissioner;

(ix) the responsibility to supervise the implementation of the continuing education programs for nonjudicial personnel;

(x) the responsibility to perform all other administrative, inherently non-judicial functions or duties the court administrator deems necessary; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall authorize the court administrator to exercise any power reserved to the full court;

(xi) the power to appoint such personnel as the court administrator may deem necessary for the office of court management; the power to discipline, supervise and define the duties of such personnel, and the power to dismiss such personnel;

(xii) notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, when necessary to ensure the proper administration of justice, transfer employees of the trial court to serve where needed; impose discipline on such officers and employees, including dismissal and suspension with or without pay; provided, however, that the court administrator may, upon reasonable notice, temporarily transfer nonjudicial personnel among the various departments, 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;

(xiii) notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the court administrator may transfer funds from any item of appropriation within the trial court; provided, however, that the court administrator shall not transfer more than 5 per cent of funds from items 0339–1001 or 0339–1003 to any other item of appropriation within the trial court; provided further, that the transfers shall be made in accordance with schedules submitted to the senate and house committees on ways and means, which shall include: (1) the amount of money transferred from any item of appropriation to any other item of appropriation; (2) the reason for the necessity of the transfer; and (3) the date on which the transfer shall be completed; and provided further, that a transfer under this clause shall not occur until 10 days after the revised funding schedules have been submitted in writing to the senate and house committees on ways and means.

(xiv) the court administrator shall make a written report on the fiscal and organizational state of the trial court at the conclusion of each fiscal year and shall deliver said report, together with recommendations to the supreme judicial court by December 15 each year. The supreme judicial court shall then make a written report on the state of the court system and the judiciary for said past fiscal year and shall deliver the report together with recommendations to the governor, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, on or before February 15 of each year. Said reports shall include, but not be limited to, an account of all transfers of appropriated funds among line items and a schedule of all personnel transferred within the judicial system for the past fiscal year and contemplated for the current fiscal year. The court administrator shall provide reports to the clerk of the house of representatives and the clerk of the senate. Such reports shall be a matter of public record;

(xv) the court administrator shall be authorized to visit any department or any division or any place for holding court within such a department. The court administrator may from time to time call conferences of any or all of the deputy court administrators of the departments;

(xvi) the court administrator shall review all appointments and dismissals governed by standards promulgated under the authority of section 8 for noncompliance with such standards and shall rescind any such appointment or dismissal that does not comply with said standards;

(xvii) any dispute arising between a deputy court administrator of a department or a first justice of a division, and a clerk of court, concerning the management and administration of the clerk's office, the duties, powers and obligations of the clerk's staff, or the interpretation of the personnel standards provided for under section 8, shall be submitted to the court administrator in writing by the clerk, clerk-magistrate, deputy court administrator, or first justice. The court administrator shall, within 30 days of receipt of the written notification of such dispute conduct a hearing in order to determine the matter. The decision of the court administrator shall be binding on the parties;

(xviii) the court administrator shall establish uniform guidelines and policies to further minority employment within the judicial system;

(xix) the responsibility to administer, subject to appropriation, a reserve fund for the purpose of providing secretarial and administrative support staff and services to the justices of the superior court department of the trial court;

(xx) with the approval of the chief justice of the trial court and notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the authority to establish the hours during which the courts of the commonwealth shall be open, including Saturday and evening sessions, and to further establish flexible work schedules; provided, however, that no employee shall be required to work more hours during a week than is provided by the relevant collective bargaining agreement; and

(xxi) the court administrator may delegate his responsibilities and powers hereunder and as otherwise provided by law to a deputy court administrator, court officer, clerk, or any employee of his department, for such period of time and with such limitations as he may impose, whenever in his opinion such delegation of authority will expedite the judicial business of the trial court.

(xxii) the authority to appoint such other personnel as may be necessary for the administration of the trial court; provided, however, that such personnel shall receive salaries to be fixed by the court administrator and subject to appropriation;

(xxiii) the court administrator shall annually make recommendations and propose legislative changes to improve the fiscal management of the trial court; and

(xxiv) the authority, subject to the approval of the chief justice of the trial court, to apply for and accept on behalf of the commonwealth any funds, including grants, bequests, gifts or contributions, from any person which shall be deposited in a separate account and may be expended by the court administrator, without further appropriation, in accordance with chapter 29 and any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.