Massachusetts House Passes Court Re-organization and Probation
Creates Civilian Court Administrator; Brings Real Reform to
(BOSTON) – State Representative Carlo Basile today joined his
colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in
unanimously passing landmark court reorganization legislation aimed
at improving efficiency in the state’s court system and bringing
transparency to hiring and promotion at the Department of Probation.
The legislation, passed by a vote of 152-0, signals strong
collaboration between the legislative and judicial branches to
provide a streamlined system of justice and restore public trust in
the state’s Probation Department.
"This major reform legislation will improve upon an already strong
court system by facilitating a more efficient and cost-effective
infrastructure for the disposition of justice," House Speaker Robert
A. DeLeo said. "Not only does this bill create a civilian
administrator to oversee the business aspects of the Trial Court,
but it also adds needed transparency to the hiring and promotion
practices at the Department of Probation. By passing this
reorganization bill, the House has committed to bring a more
transparent, efficient system of justice to the people of
"This proposal will increase accountability and improve the
efficiency of our Trial Court," said Representative Eugene L.
O'Flaherty, House Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "The Speaker
and the SJC worked together to provide transparency to the hiring
process in our Trial Court and improve its administration. This
measure will go a long way in improving confidence and morale."
This legislation is cost efficient, and will undoubtedly be an
effective way to strengthen our justice system,” said Representative
Following the recommendation of the Monan Commission Report, the
bill creates an Office of Court Management and a Chief Justice of
the Trial Court to divide the responsibilities currently held by the
Chief Justice for Administration and Management.
The Chief Justice of the Trial Court will serve as the judicial head
of the Trial Court, responsible for planning, policy, assigning
judges, judicial discipline, and all other inherently judicial
Under the legislation, the civilian Court Administrator will be
responsible for the general administration of the Trial Court,
including reviewing and approving the hiring of non-judicial
employees, administering appropriations and expenditures,
negotiating contracts and leases, and any other inherently
non-judicial administrative functions.
The Court Administrator will also be required to identify core
administrative functions and create cost-savings and efficiencies by
consolidating certain administrative activities of the various
departments of the Trial Court. The Court Administrator will also be
charged with implementing a hiring model and applicant tracking tool
for all employment within the Trial Court.
The Chief Justices of the various departments of the Trial Court
will continue their current appointments and will be responsible for
core judicial functions.
The bill also reforms hiring and promotion practices in the
Department of Probation which, according to the legislation, will
remain in the judicial branch.
An objective entrance exam will be established for the hiring and
promotion of all probation and court officers. Successfully passing
the exam will enable candidates to advance to the interview stage,
provided that they meet all other requirements for the position.
Candidates who pass the exam and meet all other requirements will
then be subject to a rigorous background review and interview
process, which will be based on best practices recommended by the
Harshbarger Commission on Probation Department Hiring.
Furthermore, the bill removes unilateral hiring power from the
Commissioner of Probation, instead making hiring within the
Probation Department subject to the approval of the Court
The bill also adds needed transparency to hiring and promotion
practices across state agencies by requiring recommendations offered
on behalf of any applicant to be made in writing and shielded from
hiring authorities until the final round of the interview process.
In addition, applicants for employment within the executive,
legislative, and judicial branches will have to disclose the names
of all immediate family members who are state employees. This
information will be made public for successful applicants.
Finally, to continue the ongoing reform effort at the Probation
Department, the bill establishes an Advisory Board to help craft
additional improvements within the department. The board will be
comprised of seven members with expertise in the fields of criminal
justice, public policy, human resources and management.