PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Jennifer Donahue/Erika Gully-Santiago
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2021
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd Delivers
State of the Judiciary Speech
BOSTON, MA -- The Hon. Kimberly S. Budd presented her first annual address on the state of the judiciary to the legal community at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Bench-Bar Symposium today.
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Budd opened her remarks by recognizing the extraordinary challenges of the last year and a half, including the crushing loss of the late SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants. “We suffered a devastating blow with the death of Chief Justice Ralph Gants in September 2020. It was for that reason that we did not hold a State of the Judiciary event last year,” she said. “Chief Justice Gants recognized that ‘justice is a team effort.’ He knew that we can only attain our lofty ideals about how our courts should function through the collective contributions of everyone in the court system.”
In acknowledging that team effort during the pandemic, Chief Justice Budd extended her thanks to the Massachusetts Bar Association, Governor Baker and to Legislative leaders, as well as the more than 6,000 judges, clerks, registers, and employees that make up the court system. “You have demonstrated remarkable resilience, ingenuity, flexibility and teamwork as you have overcome so many obstacles to keep our courts operating and accessible during this difficult period.”
On the advances made by the judiciary during the pandemic, Chief Justice Budd said: “I doubt that anyone believes that we should go back to exactly the way things were before the pandemic, and we expect to continue many of the advances it brought about. We have learned, for example, that not all court events need to take place at the courthouse. We can save litigants and their lawyers considerable time and expense by holding some hearings virtually when appropriate.”
She noted that members of the bar would receive a joint survey from the SJC and the Trial Court, seeking their input on which pandemic-related innovations the courts should retain going forward. "Please take the time to respond," she urged, "for your answers will help to shape the future of our courts."
Chief Justice Budd also spoke of systemic racial inequities that must be addressed. “As we emerge from the pandemic, we also need to do more to fight another kind of virus that has affected our legal system for far too long – the problem of racial and ethnic inequities. Even as we were battling COVID over the last year-and-a-half, the repeated, tragic and unjustified deaths of Black men and women in police encounters across the country sparked a national reexamination of the role of race in our legal system,” she said. “Within the courts, we have made this issue a top priority. We have begun convening quarterly meetings of the Chief Justices of each court and the Commissioner of Probation to discuss what each court is currently doing, and to share new proposals, to combat racial and ethnic inequities.”
Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, Trial Court Administrator John A. Bello, and Massachusetts Bar Association President Thomas M. Bond also delivered remarks.
Chief Justice Carey addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID pandemic; racial inequity; the Trial Court’s work to address substance use disorders; Criminal Justice Reform legislation; and the Eviction Diversion Initiative. Chief Justice Carey has announced that she will retire from the Trial Court in January 2022.
“I am confident that I am not alone in saying that we have all undergone significant stress and uncertainty not only due to the pandemic, but also due to the racial reckoning that we have all experienced during the last year and a half,” said Chief Justice Carey. “However, I believe that we have emerged stronger, more innovative and confident in our resilience as a result of this experience.”
"Out of every crisis, opportunities emerge, and we took full advantage of them,” said Trial Court Administrator Bello. “In fact, the pandemic accelerated many strategic initiatives outlined in Strategic Plan 3.0. A major focus of last year was finding ways to navigate the challenges the pandemic presented, but the fundamental work of the Trial Court never stopped.”
“We are proud to host Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd’s first State of the Judiciary Address and look forward to building upon our strong relationship as we advocate for much-needed funding for improvements to the courts’ infrastructure and technology, and support efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our legal system,” said Massachusetts Bar Association President Bond. “We at the Massachusetts Bar Association will continue to work with the bench, with the bar and with the Legislature to make our courthouses safe and accessible for all individuals, no matter who you are, where you are from or where you practice.”
Chief Justice Budd was sworn-in as the 38th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on December 1, 2020. She was first appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in August 2016 as an Associate Justice. Prior to that, she served as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court since 2009.
2021 State of the Judiciary Addresses by SJC Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, and Trial Court Administrator John A. Bello are available on the court’s website.