There is always a computer trail, but you can leave this site quickly.

Twitter Pinterest Facebook Instagram


DonateDonate

COVID-19 District Court Updates

District Court During the Coronavirus Outbreak

**This information is current as of 4/2/2020**

In response to the spread of the coronavirus/COVID-19, the Court has issued “Standing Orders” outlining many changes to the court process.  The information below is a summary of those changes.  See here for the full District Court order.

If you have questions about the District Court order and have experienced domestic violence, you may contact DOVE’s Legal Helpline for assistance at (617) 770-4065 ext. 400.

The District Courts are closed for regular proceedings with some emergency exceptions until at least May 4, 2020.  If you have questions, you may contact the court.

How do I know if my matter is considered an emergency exception?

The court has determined that the following are considered emergency matters that will be held by video or telephone conference:

  • New restraining orders and their 10-day hearings (see below for more details);
  • New harassment prevention orders and their 10-day hearings (see below for more details);
  • New emergency extreme risk protection orders and their 10-day hearings;
    • NOTE: If your emergency risk protection order is extended at your 10-day hearing, it may only be extended until an in-person hearing can be scheduled once the courts have re-opened.
  • Arraignments of new arrests in which the arrestee is in custody;
  • Warrant removals for persons under arrest;
  • Probation violations where detention is sought for persons arrested on a warrant or for a new crime;
  • Search warrants;
  • Mental health commitment hearings or evaluations pursuant to G.L. c. 123; and
  • Mental health orders pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a).

What if I want to file for a 209A Abuse Prevention Order (Restraining Orders) or a 258E Harassment Prevention Order?

If you are looking to file a new restraining order or harassment prevention order, please call DOVE’s Legal Helpline for more information and advice.  In general, these are considered an emergency and the court will hear your case.  These matters are being heard via telephone or video conference.  You can get more information about the process for filing a new restraining order or harassment prevention order while the courts are closed here.

If you are scheduled for a 10-day hearing date for a restraining order or motion to vacate (the hearing that happens after the first “ex parte” hearing), your case will be heard via telephone or video conference.  Please note, if your restraining order or harassment prevention order is extended at this 10-day hearing, it may only be extended until an in-person hearing can be scheduled once the courts have re-opened.  This means you may have to go back to court once they have re-opened for an in-person hearing.

Some restraining order or harassment prevention order matters MAY be heard in person. In that case, you will be permitted to enter a designated area of the court and given the paperwork to apply for the restraining order or harassment prevention order.  The hearing may then be conducted via telephone or in a courtroom.

Am I allowed to enter the court for other matters?

The court has made the following emergency exceptions that will allow someone to enter a district courthouse only:

  • If a person is posting bail; or
  • If a person is getting a GPS or SCRAM device fitted or removed.

What if I have a restraining order renewal hearing when the courts are closed?

Any Restraining Orders (209A) or Motions to Vacate the Home that were scheduled to occur between March 18, 2020 and May 4, 2020, will automatically be extended to a date after May 1, 2020 when an in-person hearing can be held.  This means you do NOT need to go to court.

What if my matter doesn’t fall into any of these categories?

All other case matters scheduled for a court event between March 18, 2020-May 4, 2020 will be continued (rescheduled) to a date after May 4, 2020 and no less than 60 days from the date of the scheduled event or to a date by agreement of the parties and the respective clerk’s office. Attorneys or parties should contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone to schedule an event that has been continued as a result of this Order. Any new matters should be scheduled for a date after May 4, 2020.

What if I have to pay a fine, fee, or other court cost because it is due between March 18, 2020-May 4, 2020?

No fees, fines, or costs will be collected at a courthouse between March 18, 2020-May 4, 2020. You may pay your fee or fine online through the e-pay portal that is accessible at www.masscourts.org. If you are unable to pay such fee or fine through the e-pay portal, the requirement that such fee or fine be paid during that time frame is deferred until May 4, 2020 and Courts shall extend payment due dates to May 31, 2020.

If you have questions about the District Court order and have experienced domestic violence, you may contact DOVE’s Legal Helpline for assistance at (617) 770-4065 ext. 400.

Download pdf of District Court Updates Dated 4/6/20