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Missing files.  Unprocessed checks totaling several hundred thousand dollars in filing fees.  A procedural and paperwork mess that saw pleadings as far back as 2015 not docketed or scanned.  The legal system is complicated enough, but when clerks behind the counter can’t handle the paperwork, the system doesn’t function.  And unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in the Suffolk County Probate & Family Court in Massachusetts.

It was apparently an office already in trouble, the prior Register in charge of the office lost her seat after allegedly assaulting an employee after a holiday party.  In 2014, with a new Register, the situation didn’t improve.  The court brought in a temporary manager in October 2016 who found fifty bins of files scattered throughout the office.  They estimated that an average of 20-30 cases went missing on any given day.

In California, the court system went through a rough patch when the statewide budget cuts hit.  Things have improved, and overall thankfully, our local Sacramento office runs well.

Usually, when I discuss the probate process, and the reasons why you should avoid it, I assume a functional court.  Unfortunately, this story illustrates that isn’t always a safe assumption.

Source: Severe dysfunction alleged in Suffolk Probate, Boston Globe, March 17, 2017

 

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