Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court COVID-19 Update

On May 26, 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court once again updated their orders regarding the opening of Massachusetts courts. In this order, the SJC clarified the opening dates that were written about in the May 14th letter by the Chief Justices of the Massachusetts courts.

Specifically, the SJC’s order includes the following:

  • Massachusetts courts will be closed to the public until July 1, 2020.
  • Jury trials will be held no earlier than September 8, 2020.

As the pandemic has continued the individual courts have been given the authority to determine how to best treat their cases. For some courts this means that all non-custody cases will be given new dates, while others have created new standing orders on how to deal with their cases.

Below are some of the details for Plymouth County courts:

Brockton District Court

Attorneys may call the court to secure new dates for cases that are scheduled in June. If new dates are not given, all non-custody hearings will occur via telephone conference at 2:00 PM on the scheduled court date. For custody cases, the court will hold video conference hearings on the scheduled date at a time to be determined by the clerk’s office. The Brockton District Court has yet to release guidance for jury trials scheduled before September 8, 2020. However, it is anticipated that those dates will be converted to status dates.

Hingham District Court

The Hingham District Court Clerk’s Office will be deciding on how to handle non-custody cases on a case-by-case basis. If they determine that a case will be continued, they will call the attorney to pick a new date. If the Clerk’s Office decides not to pick a new date, they will pick a time for a telephone conference. All jury trials (and bench trials through June), have been converted to status dates, and instead will be held as telephone conferences. All custody cases will be held as video conferences at 10:00 AM.

Plymouth District Court

During a telephone conference, all pre-trial dates were given new dates. At those new dates, a specific prosecutor will be assigned and the next stage of the case will be determined.

Wareham District Court

All cases scheduled for trial will be held by either telephone conference or video conference on their scheduled date at 11:30 AM – these will now be status dates. All cases scheduled pre-trial will be held by either telephone conference or video conference on their scheduled date at 2:00 PM.