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Massachusetts District Court Standing Order 6-83: Scheduling, Continuance and Administrative Policies

(Applicable to the Northampton Division)

[Disclaimer]

I. Criminal Cases.

1. Defendants shall report to the Probation Office to complete required paperwork at or before 8:30 a.m. on the morning of arraignment and again after disposition. All defendants charged with imprisonable offenses who desire the services of the Bar Advocate shall complete the required application in the Probation Office prior to arraignment.

2. A defendant's application for appointment of the Bar Advocate will be acted upon, and the defendant notified of the court's decision, during arraignment. No plea except "not guilty" will be taken on the arraignment date from defendants charged with imprisonable offenses, unless represented by counsel or after signing a written waiver of counsel. All continued cases will be assigned a definite date for pretrial conference, trial or disposition. All cases will be scheduled for pretrial conference, except in certain minor motor vehicle matters.

3. On the day set for pretrial conference, defendants or defense counsel shall confer with the assigned prosecutor from the district attorney's office at 8:30 a.m. By 9:30 a.m., all cases scheduled for conference shall be ready for disposition, assignment for first instance jury trial, or scheduling for another date for motion hearing, bench trial or, in exceptional circumstances, for further pretrial conference. Pre-trial conferences may be conducted with the district attorney's office in advance of the scheduled date, but all conferences shall be completed by 9:30 a.m. on the date scheduled for conference. Pretrial conference reports are required to be filed only in cases which are scheduled for trial. A case will not be scheduled for a motion hearing or trial until the pretrial conference has been completed.

4. Defense counsel shall file an appearance and have the defendant execute and file a waiver of first instance jury trial prior to the presentation of the case to the court for disposition or for scheduling of motions or trial.

5. All pretrial motions shall be filed on or after the date of pretrial conference and not before, and shall be in accordance with Mass.R.Crim.P. 13.

6. On the trial date, defendants or defense counsel shall confer with the assigned prosecutor from the district attorney's office at 9 a.m., prior to the commencement of trials at 9:30 a.m. All parties shall be prepared to commence trial promptly at 9:30 a.m. on the scheduled date and to continue without interruption until completion.

7. Arraignments, pretrial conferences and trials in criminal cases will be scheduled so that the period of time from the date of arrest, issuance of the citation or show cause hearing, whichever occurs first, to the date of adjudication or finding of sufficient facts, does not exceed 60 days.

8. Matters continued for payment of fines, restitution or court costs shall be scheduled on Fridays and will be considered by the court the following Monday at 2 p.m. Other matters continued after submission or trial, whether with or without probation, and also driving-under-the-influence and non-support matters for review, shall be scheduled on Mondays at 2 p.m. Defendants whose cases are continued after disposition, with or without probation, are not required to appear on the date scheduled for discharge from probation or for dismissal of the case.

II. Civil Cases.

The trial of all civil cases, except those remanded by the Superior Court, shall be scheduled so that they are completed within 90 days from the date trial is requested.

III. Continuances.

1. Scheduling of cases for pretrial conference, motions, trial or disposition shall be the sole responsibility of the session clerk. The Clerk/Magistrate's office shall prepare the daily pretrial conference and trial lists.

2. In all criminal cases, unless the parties are present in court, the Commonwealth shall notify the complainant, and the Clerk/Magistrate's office shall notify the defendant, of the next scheduled court event.

3. In both civil and criminal cases, the parties shall be prepared to proceed to pretrial conference, trial or disposition on the assigned date, unless a motion for a continuance has been allowed pursuant to this standing order.

4. In both civil and criminal cases, a party shall file a motion for continuance with the Clerk/Magistrate's office as soon as the need for a continuance becomes apparent. A motion for continuance shall contain information as to:

(a) when the need for the continuance arose;

(b) what the grounds for the continuance are;

(c) the measures taken to avoid seeking a continuance; and

(d) the earliest date all parties will be ready to proceed.

When an oral motion for continuance is made to the court, it shall afterwards be reduced to writing and filed with the case.

5. Motions for continuance which are assented to by all parties shall be acted upon only by the Scheduling Coordinator (the Third Assistant Clerk, or in his absence, the Second Assistant Clerk) or by the Presiding Justice.

6. Motions for continuance which are not assented to by all parties shall be scheduled for hearing before the Presiding Justice, or in his absence by the Justice then presiding.

7. No continuance shall be allowed except for good cause shown. In determining whether to allow a motion for continuance, the Scheduling Coordinator and the Presiding Justice will apply the considerations set forth in Standards 3:00, 3:01, 3:02 and 3:03 of the Caseflow Management Standards of the District Court Department.

8. Reasonable costs may be assessed against a party or attorney who causes a case to be continued without good cause or adequate notice.

IV. Administrative Arrangements.

1. Ex parte motions of an emergency nature arising on Monday or Friday will be heard during the criminal session in Courtroom No. 1.

2. Arraignments and hearings in non-support cases will be scheduled for the Thursday criminal session in Courtroom No. 1.

3. Attorneys shall not pass beyond the counter into the work areas of the Clerk/Magistrate's or Probation offices, or use telephones, typewriters or other equipment of those offices, without prior permission from a staff member of those offices.

4. Attorneys appointed under Mass.R.Crim.P. 8 and Dist.Ct.Supp.R.Crim.P. 8 to represent criminal defendants shall submit the appropriate form completely filled out, including the date of appointment, appointing Judge, name of client, docket number(s), and the attorney's name, address, telephone number, social security number, and signature.

5. Attorneys shall not contact personnel of the Clerk/Magistrate's office for assistance that could be readily obtained from the General Laws, the District/Municipal Courts Rules of Civil Procedure, or the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Adopted effective December 1, 1983.