Due to the ongoing public health concerns created by the Coronavirus pandemic, and under the Supreme Judicial Court’s order dated April 27, 2020, effective on April 27, 2020, the SJC issued this standing order to maintain court operations while continuing to reduce the number of people coming to Superior Court courthouses. This standing order is effective April 27, 2020, and will remain in effect until further order of the court.
Courthouses Are Only Open For In-Person Emergency Matters
Until at least June 1, 2020, the Superior Court will be open to conduct court business, but courthouses will be closed to the general public except where entry is required only to address an emergency matter that cannot be resolved virtually because it is not practicable or would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights.
What Are Considered In-Person Emergency Matters In Superior Court?
Proceedings under G. L. c. 112, § 12S known as “Mary Moe petitions”
These proceedings may be conducted by telephone or other means on request of counsel for the minor if a judge determines that such a method is necessary for the circumstances.
Any Other Matter Will be Required to be Heard Before A Judge
After consultation with the clerk, the parties, security, and probation, if applicable, will determine if it requires an in-person proceeding because it cannot be resolved virtually, meaning it is not practicable or would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights.
In-Person Appearances Are Limited To The Following Persons:
- Other necessary persons as determined by the judge presiding over the proceeding
No more than three members of the “news media,” as defined in Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:19(2), though no such member may attend a Mary Moe hearing.
Probate and Family Court
Pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Order OE-144 invoked the authority granted to by G. L. c. 211B, § 10 to promulgate Standing Order to protect the public health by reducing the risk of exposure to the virus and slowing the spread of the disease. In efforts to maintain consistency among the Divisions of the Probate and Family Court, this Standing Order shall supersede any administrative or scheduling protocols previously instituted by any Division of the Probate and Family Court in response to the COVID-19 virus, as well as Standing Order 1 – 20. It’s been ordered effective May 4, 2020, that between the regular business hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the divisions of the Probate and Family Court shall operate subject to the following temporary, emergency conditions. Until at least June 1, 2020, the Probate and Family Court shall remain open solely to address emergency matters that cannot be resolved virtually, either because it is not practicable or would be inconsistent with the protection of constitutional rights.
The below actions/case types have been identified as emergency matters and may be filed and shall be heard, unless the Court requires notice:
- Petitions/motions seeking a Do Not Resuscitate/Do Not Intubate/Comfort Measures Only (DNR/DNI/CMO) order, authorization for medical treatment order, or order for antipsychotic medication
- Petitions seeking appointment of a temporary guardian or conservator
- Petitions pursuant to G. L. c. 19A, § 7 and G. L. c. 19C, § 20 – protective services
- Health Care Proxy actions
- Petitions/Motions for Appointment of Special Personal Representative
- Petitions for marriage without delay
- Complaints for Dependency (SIJS) if the child will turn 21 prior to May 5, 2020
- All requests for injunctive relief
- Motions for temporary orders where exceptional/exigent circumstances have been demonstrated
- Contempt actions where exceptional/exigent circumstances have been demonstrated.
Juvenile Court Standing Order
It’s ordered that where ever the date April 6, 2020, appears in Juvenile Court Standing Order 3-20 be replaced with May 4, 2020, and where ever the date May 4, 2020, appears in Juvenile Court Standing Order 3-20 be replaced with June 6, 2020. All other provisions of Juvenile Court Standing Order 3-20 remain in effect. This Order will remain in effect until subsequent order issues rescinding this Order. Any deviation from this Order must be sought from the Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court.
Massachusetts Juvenile Court Department remains open to conduct our critical work on behalf of the children and families of the Commonwealth subject to the following temporary, emergency conditions:
- Care & protection matters
- Custody hearings
- Temporary custody hearings
- Waivers of appearance
- Electronic filing of reports
- Identification of subject children in care & protection matters
- Additional hearings & trials
- Delinquency & youthful offender matters
- Continuance of cases
- Jury trials
- Probable cause or “show cause” hearings
- Summons arraignments
- Custody matters
- Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) matters
- Adoption matters
Housing Court Standing Order
This order is temporary and is subject to be modified or rescinded at any time, as necessary to address the fluctuating circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic. All Housing Court divisions shall continue to conduct court business during regular business hours and, through June 1, 2020, shall hear only emergency matters. Where appropriate, such matters shall be heard telephonically or through video conferencing. All other court events, including cases in which an out-of-court agreement for judgment is filed and not approved by the court, shall be scheduled for or continued to, a date not earlier than June 1, 2020. A party may seek to advance its court event, upon filing a motion and by making a showing of good cause. Where practical, such motion shall be electronically filed (“eFiled”) through the eFiling system. Effective April 27, 2020, the opening speech and “the call of the list” conducted during summary process sessions are suspended. All executions for possession and money judgments, court-ordered deadlines, and deadlines outlined in statutes or court rules, standing orders, or guidelines that expired or will expire before June 1, 2020, are tolled through that date, unless otherwise specially ordered by the court. The new deadline in each instance is to be computed as set forth in the SJC Order. Any default judgment entered between March 1, 2020, and through June 1, 2020, shall be vacated upon motion. After June 1, 2020, judges may exercise flexibility and discretion in leaving default judgments and in granting continuances, as may be required in the interest of the health and safety of the parties and the general public.
We’re Here To Help With Coronavirus Related Legal Services
In Compliance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, during this time of social distancing, we’re still meeting new clients and current clients just as we would in-person. We’ve taken steps to ensure we can still help you or your family with the assistance of technology. The Law Office of Rachel Matos is temporarily working remotely, and until further notice, all meetings will be conducted via phone call or video conferencing. We are accepting video consults on FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, and Zoom.