Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Notice

COVID-19 and Court and Administrative Hearings

Reviewed March 25, 2020

Court and Administrative Hearings

U.S. District Court: See the latest information on their website.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued orders to protect public health by postponing all new jury trials and limiting entry to courthouses

The Massachusetts Trial Courts are closed except for emergency matters until April 6, maybe longer.When possible, emergency hearings will be conducted over the telephone or through video conferencing. 

If you need an emergency restraining order, see Asking the court for a restraining order or harassment prevention order during COVID-19 .

The Trial courts are

District Courts and the Boston Municipal Court

  • Civil matters scheduled for an in-court event, like small claims trials and administrative reviews, between March 18th and May 1, 2020 shall be postponed for at least 60 days or a date agreed to by parties, but not before May 4, 2020. 
  • You can file a civil complaint but the courts will only hold emergency hearings before May 1, 2020.
  • See District Court Standing Orders
  • See Boston Municipal Court Standing Orders

Housing Court

  • The Housing Court will hear only "emergency matters" until April 6, 2020.
  • When possible, emergency hearings will be conducted over the telephone or through video conferencing.
  • All deadlines that were set to occur before April 21 are now pushed back to April 21, 2020.
  • All eviction hearings in Housing Court are postponed until April 21, 2020 or later.
  • The Housing Court encourages parties to come to an agreement outside of court.
  • Any default judgment entered between March 1, 2020 and April 21, 2020 shall be vacated, upon motion.
  • See Housing Court Standing Orders 3-20 Supplement  and 2-20 Relating to the Coronavirus Outbreak 

Probate and Family Court:

See the standing order for cases in Probate and Family Court.

  • It describes emergencies and non - emergencies.
  • It extends custody, treatment plan, guardianship and conservatorship orders, and
  • suspends Parent Education, Lawyer for the Day and Community Service programs until May 1, 2020.

Juvenile Court

 See the standing order for cases in Juvenile Court Some of the parts of the order are:

  • The order describes emergencies and non - emergencies.
  • 72 hour Care and Protection hearings will be held over the phone or through video conference if you cannot wait to have the hearing until after April 6.
  • Some arraignments will be held over the phone or by video conferencing, others will be scheduled for after May 4, 2020.
  • Dangerousness hearings will be held over the phone or by video conferencing
  • 258e Harassment hearings will be held over the phone or by video conferencing, those due to expire will still be in effect until the court can schedule another hearing
  • In non emergencies you can file a case by using the drop box outside the courthouse, if the court has a dropbox. The case will get a case number and filing date, but the court will not schedule anything until after May 4, 2020.

Probation Department: 

Land Court - See:

Superior Court: See Superior Court Standing Order 3-20: Protocol governing Superior Court proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

 

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or any exposure to it:
    • You may not enter a courthouse or other state court facility, including probation offices, until the SJC decides it is safe to remove the restrictions.
    • If you try to enter a courthouse or other state court facility you will be breaking the law and security will refuse to let you enter.

Courts will contact members of juries now hearing cases. Anyone with pending matters should contact the Clerks Office.

The courts urge all court users and staff to be vigilant in applying social distancing and hygiene precautions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Pay your court fees online. If you cannot pay online you do not have to pay until May 4, 2020. Paying later will not affect your probationary status.
  • If you cannot afford the cost of going to court, normally you would need to file an Affidavit of Indigency. Under this emergency, the court no longer requires an Affidavit of Indigency, But they may ask for proof later on in your case. If the proof is not enough they will charge you for the fees you did not have to pay.
  • All civil commitment, treatment and observation orders, shall not expire before Thursday March 18, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Call 1-855-MA COURT (855-622-6878) for announcements on emergency closures.
See their website Mass.gov/Courts and
Follow on Twitter @macourtclosings -- The court uses Twitter for one-way only communication. 

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