Mass. House Approves Bill To Overhaul Court System

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has strong support from colleagues in his legislative disagreement with Gov. Deval Patrick over reforming the state Probation Department.

The House on Wednesday unanimously approved DeLeo's reform plan, which would create new hiring rules to prevent patronage — but would leave the department in the judicial branch of government.

The speaker says the plan should restore confidence in government employees.

"I want folks to understand that when I say I'm serious about making reforms... this bill shows that I'm serious about making reforms," DeLeo said.

The bill would create a new civilian court administrator responsible for the general oversight of the courts, including appropriations, contracts and leases. The chief justice for administration and management would still be responsible for overseeing the judicial calendar and administering disciplinary actions.

To make the hiring process more accountable, the bill would also require job applicants pass a test before they could be interviewed. If hired, they would have to disclose any immediate family members who are also state employees.

Patrick's proposal would merge the Probation Department with the Massachusetts Parole Board and bring both under the control of the executive branch.

The bill now goes to the Massachusetts Senate.

With reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press

This program aired on May 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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