Breaking the destructive cycle.

Creating Consistency and Value

A partnership between the Massachusetts Trial Court and UMass Medical School’s Program of Law and Psychiatry, the Center of Excellence is organized around five core areas:


Consult on a range of long-term projects, analyzing data, and assessing at the cost-effectiveness of various programs to guide policy change throughout the Commonwealth. 


Conduct extensive evaluations of various specialty courts to improve operations, and determine what works best for the individuals and communities the court serves.


Educate and train specialty court judges and personnel using the latest research, with the goal of standardizing practices statewide.

Legal Research and Support

Research case law, and new federal and state legislation relevant to specialty courts, and provide case law summaries of relevant court cases to inform the operations of Massachusetts specialty courts. This core also provides mental health and social science research that impacts services at specialty courts.

Marketing and Outreach

Promote court and community engagement to support specialty court participation. Develop and implement an integrated marketing and outreach plan in collaboration with stakeholders.

In addition to the above core areas, the Massachusetts Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts focuses on:

  • Standardizing positive outcomes. The Center gathers and analyzes data, identifies best practices and helps implement evidence-based practices in specialty courts. In this sense, the Center acts as a laboratory of data and ideas.
  • Fostering judicial leadership, so that experienced specialty court judges can mentor training judges who are starting specialty court sessions in their jurisdictions.
  • Promoting collaboration across state agencies to identify and use resources more effectively, in the process streamlining our collective approaches to help probationers suffering from addiction, mental illness, and trauma.
  • Providing thought leadership and groundbreaking research. By combining forces with UMass Medical School’s experts in psychiatry and addiction disorders, the Center of Excellence will conduct research into proven, evidence-based practices to create consistent treatment and supervision programs for specialty court participants.