State May Close Charlestown Court

July 14, 2011
By

The state’s top judges have told Governor Deval Patrick they want to close the Charlestown Court and ten other courthouses across the state in order to save money.

They also told the governor that he should stop hiring judges because the court system can’t afford to hire the support staff necessary to validate their presence on the bench.

Roderick Ireland, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and Robert Mulligan, Chief justice for administration and management, said the newly passed Massachusetts budget didn’t include enough money to run the court system so the court system must shrink.

Swift justice, they said, is what their complaint is all about. That is, justice cannot remain swift in this state unless ten court houses are closed.

For his part, the governor said he didn’t understand the justices complaints or reasoning, and this includes Ireland, who the governor recently appointed.

Charlestown Representative Gene O’Flaherty said he believed the judge’s desire to shut the Charlestown Courthouse is more about politics than it is about justice.

“The Charlestown Courthouse is being used as a political football because I’m the chairman of the Judiciary Committee,” O’Flaherty told the Patriot-Bridge. “Obviously, I’m not for closing the Charlestown Courthouse. In fact, I will do everything within my power to keep it open as it is absolutely vital – not just for justice to be done for the hundreds who pass through there every week but because the courthouse is vital to this neighborhood’s economy,” he added.

O’Flaherty is right on the mark.

However, closing ten courthouses won’t change much at all.

In Minnesota, where 22,000 state workers were furloughed recently because that state is broke and couldn’t come to terms with a new budget, it was said by state management experts that it cost more to let all the state employees go than to keep paying them.

That’s the modern world for you.

The chief judges want to close the Charlestown Court and ten others but don’t want to exert the effort to reform a state court system that needs a new model to remain relevant in the 21st Century.

In the past four years, the trial court has lost more than 1,000 employees causing the judges to state that the court system is undermanned.

That makes sense.

What the chief judges don’t admit to is that their court system is hierarchal and bureaucratic and in dire need of being reorganized.

How would shutting ten courts make justice faster in this state?

How would having fewer judges move justice along faster for individuals?

Governor Patrick and Rep. O’Flaherty should direct the chief judges to get along with what they have, reorganize it and to stop complaining.

Above all, don’t use the venerable Charlestown Courthouse as a political pawn in a gambit for more state money to run the court system.