Brockton District Court
The Brockton District Court serves an important role in providing justice and resolving legal disputes for residents of southeastern Massachusetts. As one of the busiest district courts in the state, the Brockton court handles a high volume of criminal, civil, juvenile, and other cases each year. The court has a long history dating back to the late 19th century. Over the decades, the Brockton District Court has heard many influential cases and has undergone expansions to accommodate its growing caseload. Today, the court continues to operate in downtown Brockton, serving 21 communities in Plymouth and Norfolk counties.
Brockton District Court Hours of Operation
Before heading to the Brockton District Court, it’s essential to know its operating hours:
- Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
These hours ensure that you can access the court’s services during weekdays, making it convenient for most visitors.
Brockton District Court Contact Details
Address: 215 Main St., Brockton, MA 02301
- Clerk’s Office & Probation: (508) 587-8000
- Online: Email – [email protected]
- Criminal Department: (508) 587-6791
- Civil Department: (508) 587-0034
- Probation: (508) 588-6719
If you have specific questions or need assistance with court-related matters, these contact details will come in handy.
History of the Brockton District Court
Establishment and Early Years
The Brockton District Court was formally established in 1886, after Brockton had grown into one of the major industrial centers in New England. The court originally occupied a space in Brockton City Hall. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Brockton court heard various petty criminal cases, civil contract disputes, and other local matters. Judges would often travel to neighboring towns that fell under the court’s jurisdiction to hear cases. The Brockton District Court operated this way for several decades.
Courthouse Expansions and Renovations
By the 1920s, Brockton’s population had swelled, along with the court’s caseload. In 1926, the city constructed a dedicated courthouse building for the district court at 45 School Street. Several expansions were later completed in 1955, 1969, and 1989 to provide additional courtrooms, judge’s chambers, and administrative office space. In 2008, the Brockton courthouse underwent a $17 million renovation to update the facilities. This included the addition of new technology for digital audio recordings of proceedings. The courthouse has continued serving as the home of the Brockton District Court for close to a century.
Jurisdiction and Operations
Geographic Area Covered
The Brockton District Court holds jurisdiction over criminal, civil, and other cases that originate in 21 cities and towns located in Plymouth and Norfolk counties. This includes Brockton, Abington, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Whitman, Rockland, Hanson, Easton, Stoughton, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Braintree, Holbrook, Weymouth, Hingham, Hull, Scituate, Norwell, and Hanover. Both counties are part of the Massachusetts First District Court system.
Types of Cases Heard In Brockton District Court
As a district court, the Brockton court handles a wide breadth of legal matters at the local level. This includes:
- Criminal cases involving misdemeanors, state ordinance violations, and felony arraignments
- Civil disputes with claims under $25,000, such as small claims, personal injury, landlord-tenant, and contract cases
- Restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, and abuse protection cases
- Juvenile cases involving children under 18, such as juvenile delinquency, Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases, and Care and Protection (CHINS) cases
- Mental health, substance abuse, and commitment hearings
- Traffic and motor vehicle citation appeals
- Small claims appeals from local magistrate hearings
- Preliminary probate and family court matters
Court Officials and Staff
The Brockton District Court has several judges and magistrates who preside over legal proceedings, as well as administrative staff who keep the court operating smoothly. Currently, there are 5-6 District Court judges based in Brockton who rotate holding sessions at the courthouse. District Court judges appointed by the Governor hear cases and motions, set bail, issue search warrants, and perform marriages. The court also utilizes special magistrates, who are attorneys appointed by the judge, to handle certain criminal and civil matters. Additionally, the Clerk Magistrate’s Office handles clerical tasks like summonses, case scheduling, and maintaining court records. The Brockton District Court employs court officers, probation officers, and other support staff as well.
Notable Trials and Cases
High-Profile Criminal Cases
Over the decades, the Brockton District Court has handled arraignments, trials, and sentences in many noteworthy criminal cases. Several of these involved violent crimes that drew extensive public attention. Some examples include:
- 1991 Brockton High School killings: Arraignment of culprits who shot two students at Brockton High.
- 1997 Mainelli murder trial: Prominent case involving a murder conspiracy in Marshfield.
- 2017 Michelle Carter texting suicide case: Arraignment of Carter for manslaughter via encouragement of suicide.
- 2022 Brockton murders: Ongoing arraignments related to a string of Brockton shootings.
Significant Civil Disputes
Beyond criminal matters, the civil case docket of the Brockton District Court contains many influential lawsuits over the years involving local residents, businesses, and government entities. Some major cases have included:
- Schwartz vs. Brockton Housing Authority: 1991 disability discrimination case with a $2 million verdict.
- Belcher vs. Brockton Public Schools: 2015 negligence suit regarding student injury during recess.
- Petrangelo et al vs. City of Brockton: 2020 class action lawsuit alleging unlawful excessive police force during protests.
Brockton District Court Parking Facilities
Parking can be a concern when visiting any courthouse. Fortunately, the Brockton District Court offers several options:
- A free parking lot located in the rear of the courthouse.
- Metered parking spaces on the streets surrounding the courthouse.
- A public parking garage located directly across the street from the courthouse.
These parking options provide convenience for those who need to appear in court, ensuring you can find a suitable parking spot with ease.
If you prefer public transportation, the Brockton District Court is accessible by the Kingston/Plymouth and Middleborough/Lakeville lines of the MBTA. The closest stop to the courthouse is the Brockton Station, which is approximately a half-mile away. Additionally, Bus Route 8 of the Brockton Area Transit serves the courthouse, offering an alternative for those without personal vehicles.
The Brockton District Court provides a range of services, including hosting an Adult Drug Court. This court’s services are essential for maintaining law and order in the community and ensuring that justice is served.
Accessibility is a priority at the Brockton District Court. If you have specific accessibility needs, please contact the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator, Roderick Wilmore, for more information:
- Phone: 508-897-2717
- Fax: 508-587-6663
- Email: [email protected]
Ensuring that everyone has access to the court’s facilities and services is a fundamental aspect of its operations.
If you are a juror and require assistance, the Office of Jury Commissioner is available to help:
- Phone: 1-800-THE-JURY (843-5879)
- Email: [email protected]
- TTY: 1-800-328-3202
They are ready to assist you with any inquiries or concerns related to jury duty.
For additional information about the Brockton District Court, you can contact the following offices:
- Judge’s Lobby: Hon. Michael A. Vitali, First Justice
- Clerk’s Office: Eric Donovan, Clerk-Magistrate
- Probation Department: Michael L. Branch, Chief Probation Officer
Importance of the Brockton District Court
With its long history and heavy caseload, the Brockton District Court stands as a critical institution in providing justice services for southeastern Massachusetts. For over 135 years, the court has adjudicated a wide range of legal matters impacting residents of Plymouth and Norfolk counties. The Brockton court continues to handle approximately 40,000 new civil and criminal cases per year.
Looking ahead, the Brockton District Court will likely continue serving its important role, while adapting to changes in population, caseloads, and legal practices. Potential developments could include integrating new technologies in the courtroom, transitioning to virtual hearings, implementing innovative diversion programs, and adding specialty court sessions for drugs, mental health, or veterans. The court may also eventually outgrow its current courthouse, necessitating expanded or new facilities. However, the core mission of fairly administering justice will remain unchanged. The Brockton District Court will continue striving to equitably resolve legal conflicts, uphold the law, and protect rights across its jurisdiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the hours and location of the Brockton District Court?
The Brockton District Court is located at 45 School Street in Brockton, MA. It is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays. The court is wheelchair accessible.
What towns are covered by the Brockton District Court?
The Brockton court’s jurisdiction includes the following 21 towns in Plymouth and Norfolk counties: Brockton, Abington, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Whitman, Rockland, Hanson, Easton, Stoughton, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Braintree, Holbrook, Weymouth, Hingham, Hull, Scituate, Norwell, and Hanover.
What types of cases does the Brockton District Court handle?
The Brockton District Court hears criminal cases (misdemeanors, felonies, and ordinance violations), civil cases under $25,000, small claims, restraining orders, juvenile cases, mental health and substance abuse cases, traffic cases, and some family law.
How can I pay a ticket issued by the Brockton District Court?
Tickets issued by the Brockton District Court can be paid online, by mail, by phone, or in person at the Clerk Magistrate’s office. You will need your ticket number and date of offense. Instructions are provided on the back of the ticket.
Where can I find public records for cases filed in the Brockton District Court?
Public case records for the Brockton District Court can be accessed at the Clerk’s Office at the courthouse, or online via MassCourts by performing a case lookup. Remote public access is also offered for a fee.
Is parking free at the Brockton District Court?
Yes, there is a free parking lot in the rear of the courthouse.
How can I reach the Brockton District Court by public transportation?
You can take the Kingston/Plymouth or Middleborough/Lakeville lines of the MBTA, with the Brockton Station being the closest stop.
What services are available at the Brockton District Court?
The court offers various services, including hosting an Adult Drug Court.
How can I contact the ADA coordinator for accessibility concerns?
You can reach Roderick Wilmore at 508-897-2717 or [email protected].
Who is the First Justice of the Brockton District Court?
Hon. Michael A. Vitali serves as the First Justice of the court.