Judge Elaine M. Moriarty’s excellent piece in the Winter 2012 issue of the Boston Bar Journal portrays a day in the life of a Massachusetts Probate Court judge. See: http://www.bostonbar.org/pub/bbj/bbj_online/bbj1112/winter2012/VOJ.pdf. Beleaguered does not describe the half of it. These judges work in a system that was frozen in time economically during the last decade. With a hard hiring freeze in staff (now exceeding four years), a historically high vacancy rate among the judges and public demand for service increasing yearly, the ability to dispense justice is under unprecedented pressure. The heroic work of Chief Justice Paula Carey keeps the boat afloat but it is listing dangerously.
Lawyers’ and clients’ abilities to obtain resolution of matters in a reasoned and timely way yield the inevitable question: what are the alternatives to a broken system that are effective and cost-efficient? Private processes of mediation (facilitated negotiations) and arbitration (private decision-making) have existed for a long time but the need for them is now, more than ever, here.
William M. Levine, Esquire