Courthouse Closing Overblown?

While trial court officials have reported to the Boston Herald that they are looking to close a third of the state’s 101 trial courts with East Boston District Court as one courthouse mentioned, there seems to be nothing on the horizon according to Eastie’s two elected state officials.

Both Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Representative Adrian Madaro said the process to close a state funded courthouse would have to go through the state’s budget process and Saturday’s Herald story was the first they had heard of it.

Petruccelli said in his tenure at the State House, first as a State Representative and then as a State Senator, any time a courthouse is being considered for closure it goes through the House and Senate versions of the budget then to Conference Committee. Madaro agreed and added  for the four years he was Chief of Staff for his predecessor Rep. Carlo Basile those budget line items would stand out and usually be debated by members trying to save courthouses in their districts.

“These closures are usually a budget item so I am getting no sense of urgency here but it could just be internal talk within the Trial Court administration,” said Petruccelli. “I will be checking with the chairman of the judiciary committee because any time there is a conversation about closing a courthouse I become very concerned about where that talk is coming from. A closure of a courthouse anywhere in the Commonwealth has a potentially devastating impact on not only the public’s ability to seek justice but a potentially devastating impact on the local economy and jobs. The East Boston Courthouse has been a long success story that has become the fabric of our community here so I take any rumor of its demise serious.”

While there is no immediate danger of East Boston Court closing as far as Petruccelli and Madaro are concerned, Madaro said if the courthouse was threatened in the budget he’d be up for a fight.

“The East Boston Courthouse serves not only our community, but also Winthrop and Logan Airport. A closure of our court, a cornerstone institution of East Boston, would be a disservice to residents in and around our community and would result in a far less efficient system,” said Madaro. “From vital programs like drug court, to partnerships with local schools and social services agencies throughout the neighborhood, the Courthouse makes a positive impact on the lives of residents every day.”

Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary Sen. Will Brownsberger told the Herald he has not seen a recommendation from the Trial Court about court closures as the state’s budget is being debated in Conference Committee before going to Governor’s desk for signature.

However he did tell the Herald some reforms need to made to control Trial Court costs.

“It’s obviously a sensitive subject. People who are accustomed to having the convenience of a court that is nearby are always understandably reluctant to give that up,” Brownsberger told the Herald. “I think, at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the overall cost to provide legal services all the way across the state.”

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