MA Access to Justice Commission Update – November 1, 2019


November 1, 2019


Highlights from the October 22nd Meeting of the ATJ Commission

Thank you to the Commissioners and guests who joined us for the most recent meeting of the MA ATJ Commission on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at the Adams Courthouse. Highlights and key takeaways from the meeting included:

  • Cellphone Policy Update: Judge Cynthia Cohen, Judge Paul Chernoff, Commissioner Jeff Catalano, and Jeff Morrow (Massachusetts Trial Court Director of Security) provided a positive update on the Cell Phone Policy Committee’s progress in implementing the recommendations included in the report issued by the Committee in May 2019. The presenters highlighted the initial success of the pilot project with Yondr pouches underway in Framingham.
  • Cellphone Policy Evidentiary Protocol Presentation: Judge Peter Agnes and Commissioner Benjamin Golden presented on the draft “Information on Presenting Evidence on Cell Phones or Other Personal Electronic Devices in Court” checklist for litigants and the draft “Protocol for the Admissibility of Evidence on a Cell Phone or Other Personal Electronic Device” that they are drafting to help judges and litigants understand and standardize how to use digital evidence stored on cell phones.
  • Virtual Court Service Center Presentation: Commissioner Judge Dina Fein, Sheriece Perry (Acting Co-Director of Support Services, Massachusetts Trial Court), Deborah Silva (Executive Director, Massachusetts Appleseed), and Jake Hofstetter (Research and Policy Associate, Massachusetts Appleseed) presented on the Virtual Court Service Center report developed by Massachusetts Appleseed. The presenters discussed how they created the report and that they envision a virtual court service center as a way to supplement the six existing court service centers in the Commonwealth and to provide resources to more individuals.
  • Right to Counsel Principles Update and Discussion: Annette Duke (Massachusetts Law Reform Institute,) Gladys Vega (Chelsea Collaborative), Ellen Schacter (the City of Somerville), and Zoe Cronin (Greater Boston Legal Services) presented on the “Principles to Guide the Reconciliation of the Right to Counsel Bills” and the hybrid right to counsel bill that the Massachusetts Right to Counsel Coalition developed.

The Commission discussed the “Principles to Guide the Reconciliation of the Right to Counsel Bills,” (“Principles”) dated May 10, 2019 developed by the Massachusetts Right to Counsel Coalition, which includes a broad base of supporters.  At the meeting, the Commission endorsed the Principles; further adding that the principle titled “Fairness in the Legal System” is interpreted to include both income-qualified tenants and landlords (specifically, those landlords residing in owner-occupied multiple occupant buildings). Note: The following Commission members who were present for the discussion abstained: Judge Fairlie A. Dalton and Judge Dina E. Fein. The following Commission members were not present for the discussion or vote: Jennifer Grace Miller; Esme Caramello; Shannon M. Barnes; David Rosenberg; Jeff Catalano; and Judge Antoinette E. McLean Leoney. 


The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s Consumer Debt Pilot Summary Report is now available on the Commission’s website,, under the Resources/Library tab at


Our next ATJ Commission Meeting will take place on December 3, 2019 in the Social Law Library at the Adams Courthouse from 3:00 – 5:00 pm. We hope to see you there!