Boston Courts Nix the Stigma With Historic Guide for Addicted Litigants

Boston Courts Nix the Stigma With Historic Guide for Addicted LitigantsSource: Google Street View
Mitch M. Rosenthal
Published on November 30, 2023

The Bay State's high court handles litigants grappling with addiction and mental health woes. In a groundbreaking move, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has rolled out spanking new guidelines to steer judges, clerks, probation officers, and other courtroom players in better dealing with individuals displaying signs of substance use disorders and mental health conditions, as per an announcement released Thursday.

The freshly minted standards, which aim to thoroughly update the somewhat antiquated ones from 1998, were cooked up by a cross-section of the Massachusetts court system's finest under the auspices of the late Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and carried forth by the former Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey. To get it just right, the working group consults with experts from outside the courtroom, among them addiction specialists, mental health pros, and representatives from both health and law enforcement agencies, according to a press release from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' official website.

"Substance use disorders and mental health conditions affect many litigants appearing in our courts, and these new standards provide a crucial roadmap for offering them the help they need," said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd

A special committee, recently appointed by Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey A. Locke and chaired by two other chief justices, is tasked to oversee the implementation and training. "Education is essential to implementing the best practices set out in these new standards," said Chief Justice Locke.