Additional Court Locations to Adjust Public Office Hours -- Concord, Marlborough and Salem District Courts Seek to Reduce Backlogs

Three additional courts will adjust the hours of their clerks' offices beginning November 14, 2011, in order to reduce processing delays. Adjusted hours became effective on a temporary basis in 35 courts in September to facilitate case processing. The District Courts in Concord, Marlborough and Salem now will modify their hours for one or two hours on two or more days each week to address case backlogs and staff shortages. In addition, the Framingham/Natick District Court will extend the current one hour of restricted access on two days to four days each week. The Lowell District Court will shift its restricted hours from mid-day to the end of the day.
 
The scheduling of court sessions is not affected by the changes in office hours and access is available for emergency matters.  This reduction in counter and telephone hours provides uninterrupted time for staff to prepare cases for court sessions and execute court orders, as well as to complete filing, docketing, scanning and other case processing.
 
Current staffing levels, caseloads and public concerns about extended backlogs compelled the decision to adjust office hours.  The Trial Court has lost 1,221 people, a 16 percent reduction in staff since 2007, causing delays in many courts.
 
Departmental chief justices have worked with strained local courts to develop plans that would minimize public inconvenience and avoid adverse impact on court users.  Departments already have deployed a range of strategies to implement technology and share staff across courts, utilize administrative office staff and interns, and centralize some functions.  The departments are monitoring the impact of the restricted hours to assess its effectiveness in improving operations.
 
The decision to reduce hours at some locations means that during the specified hours staff will be unavailable to answer general telephone inquiries or to assist the public in the clerk's office. Telephone messages and signage at each location will provide information about the adjusted hours and emergency access information. The judicial response system which provides round-the-clock coverage for emergency situations will be unaffected. 
 
An updated list of courts with modified public office hours is detailed on the following page.
 
 
Temporary Changes in Court Office Hours as of November 14, 2011
District Court
Attleboro, Barnstable, E. Brookfield, Fall River (telephones only), Haverhill, Malden, Palmer, Salem, Taunton, Waltham, Woburn, Wrentham (civil open Thursday)
Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Concord
Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

Framingham/Natick
Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Lawrence, Lynn, Newburyport/Ipswich (telephones only), Somerville, Springfield, Stoughton, Uxbridge, Westborough
Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Lowell
Counter and phone coverage restricted 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday

Marlborough
Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday
Court sessions still will begin at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Restricted access applies to any business except
Persons seeking emergency restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, mental health emergencies, warrants

Housing Court
Western Division
Counter and phone coverage restricted 12 Noon to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday Scheduled matters will continue to be heard throughout the day
Satellite sessions cancelled the first week of each month in Northampton, Pittsfield and Greenfield. Emergency matters during this week will be handled in Springfield. These satellite sessions will continue the other weeks of the month.

Juvenile Court
Springfield Session of the Hampden County Division
Counter and phone coverage restricted 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Land Court
Counter and phone coverage restricted 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday Court sessions will be held as scheduled throughout the day.

Probate and Family Court All divisions, except Franklin County, Hampden County, Suffolk County, Worcester County
Registry Counter and phone coverage restricted after 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
Applies to any court business, except emergency restraining orders and other emergencies. Court sessions still will begin at 8:30 a.m.    

As of November 14, 2011