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Massachusetts District Court Joint Standing Order 3-04: Time Standards for Criminal Cases


1. Authority

This Standing Order is jointly promulgated by the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court Department and the Chief Justice of the District Court Department pursuant to their statutory responsibility for case management under G.L. c. 211B, § 10 and uniform practices under G.L. c. 218, § 43A.

2. Purpose

These time standards are intended to reaffirm the goals of "simplicity in procedure, fairness in administration, and the elimination of expense and delay," as provided by Mass. R. Crim. P. 2(a). Recognizing that excessive delay can undermine public confidence in the delivery of justice in our Courts, the following time standards have been established to advance the expeditious and just disposition of all criminal matters.

3. Time Standards

There shall be two track designations for criminal cases commenced within the final jurisdiction of the Boston Municipal and District Court Departments. Track A shall include all criminal offenses which provide a maximum period of incarceration of six months or less, including all criminal offenses which carry no term of imprisonment and are punishable only by fine. Track B shall include all criminal offenses punishable by a period of incarceration longer than six months.

The maximum time to disposition for Track A cases shall be five months. The maximum time to disposition for Track B cases shall be twelve months. If a defendant is charged with one or more Track A and Track B offenses in a single complaint, the case shall be treated as Track B for all purposes. Cases may be transferred from Track A to Track B, or the maximum time period allowable between court events may be extended, only by a judge for demonstrated good cause stated on the record. Requests to alter the track designation of cases or to extend a maximum time period within a track shall be evaluated consistent with the purposes of this Order set forth in paragraph 2. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to deter resolution of cases prior to the maximum time limits set forth herein.

Consistent with the applicable provisions of the Mass. R. Crim. P. and the Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Crim. P., the time between court events in criminal cases shall be as follows:

Track A:

Track B:

4. Criminal Case Management

Performance goals for criminal case management in the Boston Municipal Court Department shall be determined by the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court Department.

Criminal case management in the District Court Department shall be assessed in accordance with District Court Standing Order No. 4-04, Performance Goals for Criminal Case Management.

Computation of the time periods set forth above shall exclude any time during which the defendant is legally unavailable to proceed with the criminal case; e.g., time during which the defendant is in default and periods of time during which the defendant is under a term of involuntary civil commitment pursuant to the provisions of G.L. c. 123.

Adopted effective November 1, 2004.