Denying Choice of Forum: An Interference by the Massachusetts Trial Court with Domestic Violence Victims’ Rights and Safety
35 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2009 Last revised: 30 Oct 2012
Date Written: November 15, 2009
Petitions for protection from abuse, often referred to as civil protection orders or restraining orders, are governed in Massachusetts by G.L. 209A. Massachusetts has been in the forefront of many civil protections for victims, including the provision of a timely, same day hearing and other accommodations that ease the burden on petitioners in need of an immediate remedy. The jurisdictional and venue provisions of chapter 209A permit a petitioner to file for protection in either the district, Boston municipal, superior or probate and family court departments of the Massachusetts Trial Court. The history of the jurisdiction and venue provisions of the statute reflects a thoughtful and effective process crafted by the Massachusetts legislature. The provisions permit a petitioner to file in the most geographically convenient court that is located within the petitioner’s county of residence. However, in May, 2009, the Norfolk Probate and Family Court became host to a pilot program implemented by the Massachusetts Trial Court. The pilot permits the probate and family court (“family court”) to initiate interdepartmental transfer of 209A petitions from the district courts to the family court, either upon motion of a party or sua sponte, when there are related matters pending between the parties in the family court.
Keywords: civil protection orders, domestic violence, victims' rights
JEL Classification: K39, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation