As the year 2001 winds down, it is time to review the year at the
Plymouth Probate and Family Court from my perspective as Plymouth County
Register of Probate. I was elected as Plymouth County Register of
Probate in November 2000 and assumed office in late December 2000.
Thus, this report constitutes my first annual report.
The major objective of the Registry is to provide customer
satisfaction through friendly and professional service and accurate
records. Based on my
observations and comments from Court users, the Registry staff
accomplished that objective in 2001 with their courteous, competent and
A main area of emphasis and achievement in 2001 was the
technological advances, both in training of and use by staff and in
public access. Employees of the Court received training in the Trial
Courtís uniform interim BAScot computer system and adapted extremely
well to the new system. The
Court implemented the system on July 2, 2001.
Under BAScot our staff can index and docket all new cases as well
as convert old cases to the BAScot system for docketing when applicable.
All employees have handled this transition in an exceptional
manner. All departments are current in docketing and issuing citations,
summons and other vital documents.
Processing time has decreased.
We have started down the path to eliminating those bulky, old
As part of the transition to BAScot, our staff did an extensive
update of old index records to facilitate use of the expanded index
system. Index cards are no longer needed, except for very limited
matters. Employees of the Domestic Relations and Probate
Departments did an outstanding job in updating the old index cards as
well as adapting to BAScot. Domestic
Relations records are available on the computer index from 1922 to the
present. Probate, Estate
and Name Change records are available on the computer index from 1980 to
the present. Older records
are located in consolidated index books.
The computer index terminals are located at our Plymouth and
Brockton offices and at the Registry of Deeds office in Plymouth.
Users of the terminals have expressed satisfaction at the
functioning of the system.
Special thanks are in order to the users of the Court for their
patience through this process so that the Court could maximize the
potential of the transition, and make as much information as possible
available on the computer index system.
I am pleased to report that we initiated a website for the Court
around July 2, 2001. The
URL is http://www.pcpfc.com.
Diane Bender, the technology support supervisor of our Court,
created and developed this very useful website.
After its initial start up, comments were received from lawyers
and members of the general public who used the site.
Suggestions have been incorporated in the updates on the site.
Information on the site includes:
many Court forms in an interactive format (which means the form
can be filled out on line and then printed out for signature and
forwarded to the Court); Court trial lists and motion schedules;
information for pro se litigants; staff information and telephone
numbers; fee schedules; and legal assistance information.
Since its inception, over 25,000 hits have been made on the
website. In the first three
weeks of December, there was an average of about 2500 hits per week.
I have been pleasantly surprised at the popularity of the
website. The site has been
designed to be user friendly. I
believe it accomplishes that purpose.
With Webmaster Diane Benderís invaluable assistance, we will
continue to monitor and update the website to provide relevant and
The Paternity Department and Abuse Prevention Department of our
Court moved from Plymouth to Brockton in late June.
This aided us in reducing overcrowding at the Plymouth location
and in better utilizing our space in the Brockton Trial Court. The move has worked well and the departmental employees are
doing a great job.
The Trial Department continued to perform well with the many
challenges of our single calendar system and adapted well to the many
changes taking place in the Court.
The Registerís office at the new Brockton courthouse has seen a
marked increase in utilization by the public, litigants and attorneys. The Registerís office staff has done an excellent job in
handling the increased demands. The
Brockton courthouse is a superb facility for use by the Court, public,
litigants and attorneys.
The five courtrooms in Brockton and one courtroom in Plymouth
assist the Judges of the Court to handle their active caseloads, ably
assisted by the assistant registers, probation officers, judicial secretaries,
officers and remaining support staff, in a manner befitting those who
appear before them.
First Assistant Register Ben Harley has continued to be an
invaluable resource for the Court with his legal analysis of issues,
review of accounts, and dispensing of information to many inquirers.
Reclassification of all employees of the Trial Court was underway
at the start of this year. The
process was designed to provide a more uniform personnel system within
all departments of the Trial Court.
The overall process, including appeals, was completed during the
year. Laurie Devitt now
serves as Office Manager and Juanita Gomes serves as Manager of the
The Plymouth County Commissioners, John P. Riordan, Jr.,
Chairman, Peter G. Asiaf, Jr. and Robert J. Stone authorized County
Buildings Superintendent Timothy McGillicuddy to undertake repairs of
the Plymouth courthouse building, including the courtroom.
Sheriff Joseph F. McDonough provided work crews to complete the
project. Our staff prepared
many cartons for storage of old files in Trial Court storage facilities
and removed all cartons from the courtroom.
Our Plymouth courtroom now looks great and functions as an
appropriate courtroom setting for litigants and attorneys.
Come on Down!
The Lawyer of the Day program continues to be a valuable resource
of our Court. Lucie Wilson
of Pilgrim Advocates, Inc, administers the program.
The Court greatly appreciates the efforts of all attorneys who
volunteer their time and expertise to benefit so many deserving
The future status of our courtroom and office at Plymouth is a
concern. Our Court will not
be involved in the new Plymouth courthouse planned for Obery Street,
which will include the Superior, District, Housing and Juvenile Courts.
The Registry of Deeds will vacate our building when the new
Registry of Deeds building is completed, probably in early 2004. The Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) of the
Commonwealth is conducting a feasibility study of our Courtís possible
expansion into the space being vacated by the Registry of Deeds after
rehabilitation of this building. If
feasible, the matter would need to be coordinated between the
Commonwealth and Plymouth County. I
shall monitor this effort closely with the goal that a suitable Plymouth
facility be provided. Tightening
budget constraints will complicate this matter.
I am pleased to report that our Court, in conjunction with the
District Courts of Plymouth County, has been awarded a grant by the
Trial Court Judicial Institute to conduct a training program for
employees with respect to issues of domestic violence.
Claire MacNeill of SAFEPLAN is coordinating an effort involving
members of V.E.T.O. (Violence-free
Education, Training and Outreach) to plan this training session.
The entire staff of the Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
has faced up to varied and interesting challenges this past year in a
successful and well-motivated manner.
I commend all members of the staff for their dedication in
serving the users of the Court in an exemplary manner.
I look forward to working with the members of the staff of the
Plymouth Probate and Family Court in addressing the needs of the Court
in 2002 and in serving the users of the Court.
Robert E. McCarthy, Register of Probate