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Massachusetts District Court Standing Order 2-88: Caseflow Management of Juvenile Cases

(Applicable to All Divisions with Juvenile Jurisdiction)

[Disclaimer]

I. Authority.

This Order is promulgated by the Administrative Justice of the District Court pursuant to his statutory responsibility over caseflow management, G.L. c. 211B, s. 10 and uniform practices, G.L. c. 218, s. 43A.

II. Purpose.

The purpose of this Order is to facilitate compliance with the standards for juvenile cases issued by the Supreme Judicial Court on April 7, 1986.

III. Juvenile Delinquency Cases.

1. Bail Hearings. As required by Mass. R. Crim. P. 7(a)(1), the court shall provide for each juvenile who has been arrested and not released a hearing on the issue of detention and bail on the same day as the arrest, if the court is then in session, and if not, at the next court session.

2. Non-jury Trials and Transfer Hearings. Non-jury trials for the adjudication of delinquency and juvenile transfer hearings should be scheduled by the court as follows:

The periods listed in Mass. R. Crim. P. 36(b)(2) shall be excluded from the 30- or 60-day period.

IV. Care and Protection Cases.

1. Preliminary Stages. In care and protection cases (G.L. c. 119, §§ 24, 26), the following time standards shall be adhered to. In non-emergency situations, the preliminary hearing shall be conducted within two weeks of the filing of the petition. In all cases, the investigator's report shall be filed no later than eight weeks after the filing of the petition, except upon leave of court. A pretrial conference shall be held within two weeks after the filing of the investigator's report. Except for investigators' reports, all written reports of any type which are to be submitted to the court shall be filed with the Clerk-Magistrate's office at least three days in advance of the court date for which it has been prepared, unless the court directs otherwise.

2. Adjudicatory Hearing. The adjudicatory hearing shall not begin sooner than two weeks after the submission of the investigator's report unless all parties agree to a shorter period of time. The adjudicatory hearing should be heard in its entirety with as few interruptions as possible, preferably with day-today hearings if the other business of the court permits. In any event, "[o]nce a trial begins it should proceed expeditiously to completion. All parties involved then benefit from increased continuity. Efficiency is increased when delays between hearings are kept to a minimum." Care and Protection of Three Minors, 392 Mass. 704, 705 n. 3 (1984). The adjudicatory hearing shall be completed no later than six months from the filing of the petition.

3. Judgment. After completing the adjudicatory hearing, the court should promptly render its judgment as to whether the child is in need of care and protection. This judgment shall be entered no later than 30 days after completion of the evidentiary hearing. By law, the judge must file written findings and conclusions of law within ten days after entry of judgment. (G.L. c. 119, § 27.) "Continuances without a finding" and "general continuances" should not be utilized instead of entering a judgment.

4. Disposition. Following adjudication, the court should determine all dispositional issues and issue the necessary orders, temporary and permanent, without delay.

The Supreme Judicial Court has indicated that "[n]o cases of any kind have a greater claim for expedition at all stages than those involving care and custody of children" (emphasis supplied). Custody of a Minor, 389 Mass. 755, 764 n. 2 (1983).

Adopted May 31, 1988, effective July 1, 1988. Amended July 6, 1990, effective August 1, 1990.