Five years after a blue-ribbon commission said the Massachusetts court system was failing the public, the state’s top judges yesterday said persistent reforms have dramatically improved the way the state dispenses justice. “I think we have done . . . things that have revolutionized the way that we are delivering justice,” Margaret Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, told the Boston Globe. At her prodding, a commission led by the Rev. J. Donald Monan, former president of Boston College, studied the courts and in 2003 found them “drowning in managerial confusion.”
Marshall singled out three steps taken in the last five years to improve the courts, including a statewide workload analysis to discover how many people were needed to work in each courthouse and still improve efficiency. Specific goals and deadlines were set for the court system, including tracking how long it takes to resolve cases. The seven court departments are now generally meeting those deadlines for clearing cases and cutting down a case backlog, the judges said. The third step was to create what Marshall called the “gold standard” for evaluating the judges, which is done by lawyers, jurors, and court employees.