Massachusetts Trial Court Looking To Break Leases At Temporary Sites
The Massachusetts court system is looking to get out of leases several months early for three temporary court sites in the western part of the state.
The Trial Court has been renting space in Pittsfield, Greenfield and Springfield to conduct trials and other business in a socially distant atmosphere. But a spokesperson said the extra room is no longer needed because of an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The state leased space at Eastfield Mall in Springfield for $700,000 including utilities.
The mall's property manager, David Thompson, said court officials told him they would honor the entire one-year lease if a deal couldn't be reached. He said he plans to hold them to their word.
“We've invested quite a bit of time, money, effort — quickly, you know, almost overnight — to revamp that space to suit their needs,” Thompson said. “So at this point, yeah, we're too invested.”
The Pittsfield site is at a hotel, with a full-year cost to the state of more than $854,000. The Greenfield location, in an office building, has a lease costing nearly $1.05 million. Both locations were leased from March 2021 to March 2022.
In a statement, the court system said having the additional space allowed jury trials to proceed safely.
“This enabled the Trial Court to offer jury trials to defendants who wanted their cases to go before a jury,” the statement read. “The way most cases resolve, either criminal cases by plea or civil cases by settlement, is to set a firm trial date. In addition to the empanelments and jury trials that took place, having trial dates meant that cases were resolved by parties through settlements and plea agreements.”
A Trial Court spokesperson said they did not have numbers available on the backlog of cases caused by earlier COVID-19-related interruptions of court business.