The day started out as it always does. My client and I rushed into the courthouse at 9:00 a.m. to avoid being tardy for a hearing. It was a big day and a big case for my client, with personal safety during the proceedings being of paramount concern. To calm her fears, I reminded her that there would be a court officer inside the courtroom to ensure safety. As we turned to enter the courtroom, an unusual thing happened. We could not get in.
The courtroom was locked. It was completely dark inside. My client and the thirty people around her were confused. Having practiced before the judge for years, I know he is always on the bench at the appointed hour. Therefore, I was perplexed that the courtroom was locked. I told my client that we needed to wait for a court officer to obtain some information. I cautioned her that due to budget cuts, two court officers were staffing the entire probate and family court, therefore it could be a while. Fortunately, a moment later, a court officer approached. He explained to everyone that their hearings had been rescheduled. While they expressed frustration, he gently reminded them that they had all received a rescheduling notice in the mail three weeks prior. Since I did not get a rescheduling notice, I approached the court officer. He explained that he was aware of our situation and that the case would be heard in a different courtroom. Due to the safety concerns, the court officer accompanied us down the hall.
Read more from the Boston Bar Journal: Justice Delayed: The Ramifications of the Trial Court Budget Cuts