The Highest Court in Massachusetts "Road trips" to Lawrence

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Commonwealth's highest court, held a rare special session at the Fenton Judicial Center in Lawrence on December 7. The seven members of the SJC heard four cases during the session, and then after the proceedings, took questions from area high school students.

The Lawrence Bar Association participated in the event by hosting a special reception following the session for the SJC justices and staff, and local judges, clerks, and other dignitaries, as well as members of the LBA, Essex County Bar Association, and Haverhill Bar Association.  The SJC was presented with a special gift to commemorate its Lawrence session: a framed photo of a spontaneous gathering of workers at the site of the Fenton Judicial Center during the famous 1912 Bread and Roses Strike, in Lawrence.  The gift will be displayed at the home of the SJC in Pemberton Square in Boston.

You can see (and hear) more about the SJC Special Session with this report from WGBH.

SJC Roadshow: The State's Highest Court Comes to Lawrence

LBA Welcomes Attorney General Maura Healey and Honorees to its Annual Fall Dinner

Attorney General Healey is presented with a basketball signed by members of the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club

Attorney General Healey is presented with a basketball signed by members of the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club

The Lawrence Bar Association welcomed Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to its annual Fall Dinner on October 20, 2016 at DiBurro's in Haverhill.

Attorney General Healey provided the group with her perspective a variety of topics facing the Commonwealth, including debt collection, the growing opioid crisis, public safety, and sexual violence and assault, particularly in sports. Instead of air pressure in footballs, the Attorney General said that the NFL, in particular, should be focused on recognizing the signs of violence and changing the culture of objectification.

The LBA also bestowed this year's Liberty Bell Award to Karen Kravchuk of the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club. The Liberty Bell Award is given by the LBA each year to an outstanding community leader who leads by example and has made an exception and significant contribution to the betterment of the community. Honorees have generously given their time and resources to stimulate a sense of civic responsibility. Attorney Socrates de la Cruz, who introduced Ms. Kravchuk, told the assembled members of her tireless dedication to the children of the Boys and Girls Club, several of whom attended the event.

The LBA also honored Attorney George A. Stella with one of its most prestigious awards, recognizing him for serving the community for 50 years!

Also honored at the event were two law students who each received a scholarship to further their legal studies. The LBA Educational Trust Scholarship was awarded to Lauren K. Foley, who is studying law at the New England School of Law, and the Sargent Battershill Fund Scholarship was awarded to Danielle A. Brouder, who is a student at Suffolk Law School.

Law Day Remembers Miranda with visit from Judge Agnes and Speech Contest

The LBA celebrated this year's Law Day with a celebration on the theme "Miranda: More than Words" after the landmark ruling from 50 years ago. 

The day began with a speech contest of local high school students who gave their own perspective on the day's theme. The event continued with a luncheon at Salvatore's in Lawrence where Judge Peter Agnes, Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, spoke about the "legal earthquake" of the Miranda decision. He noted that Miranda is a reminder to police, prosecutors, and judges that this is a "society of laws and not men and women. There are limits we can't go beyond to pursue justice."

The LBA also honored Andy Caffrey for his many years of commitment to the LBA and to the surrounding community with his generous work. In comments thanking the LBA, he noted the organization's value to both new and old lawyers: "ask for help when you need it; give it when you can provide it."

The winner of the speech contest was Margaret Devlin (Central Catholic High School), who was awarded a $500 prize for her speech in front of the three-judge panel. The other participants in the speech contest, who were each awarded $100, were Alison Keenan (Methuen High School), Trammie Tran (Brooks School, North Andover), Elizabeth Stackley (Lawrence High School), and Angela Walukevich (Presentation of Mary Academy, Methuen). 

Speaker Robert A. DeLeo highlighted the LBA's recent Spring Dinner

Speaker Robert A. DeLeo joined the LBA for its annual Spring Dinner in March.

Speaker Robert A. DeLeo joined the LBA for its annual Spring Dinner in March.

The LBA recently hosted its annual Spring Dinner as a time to reconnect with LBA members at the North Andover Country Club on March 31.

The featured speaker of the evening was Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Robert A. DeLeo, who provided his perspective on several issues that are in the forefront for lawmakers on Beacon Hill. One of the key issues driving the Commonwealth's agenda is the rise of opioid use in Massachusetts and the legislature's attempts to reorganize the courts and to reform criminal sentencing. Other topics included economic development of Massachusetts outside of Boston/Cambridge, where communities are facing double-digit unemployment, and driving manufacturing where jobs are needed and collaborative efforts for city businesses to work with communities outside of Boston. 

The LBA also honored one of its longest serving members with the 50 Year Service Award. Robert Manasian spoke about his experience becoming a lawyer 50 years ago when he followed in his father's footsteps and learned how to practice in a "trial by ambush". He also spoke fondly of a time when court was a more hallowed place and lawyers were held to a higher standard. As Manasian put it, "Lawyers are God's chosen few. They are entitled to some respect."

SJC Chief Justice Gants Speaks, Judge Trombley Honored, and Scholarships Awarded at Annual Fall Dinner

Court reforms, the honoring of a distinguished career, and the jump start of a new one were the themes of the evening and the LBA's Annual Fall Dinner held on October 29. Over 100 lawyers and guests attended the event at the Andover Country Club to reconnect and to celebrate all facets of the legal profession, from law students to the Chief Justice of the top court in the Commonwealth. 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice, the Hon. Ralph Gants, addressed the assembly to provide his view on civil and criminal court reforms in the Commonwealth, by taking a fresh look at what the law is and trying to determine whether it make sense. 

He noted that in the civil justice system, the cost of discovery and litigation is too hard for people. The civil courts need to provide greater choices to litigants and make the cost of litigation and discovery appropriate to the amount at issue. The goal is for more cases to be brought to give everyone an opportunity to be heard. 

Chief Justice Gants also advocated for reducing incarceration and recidivism by understanding the risks and needs of defendants. By crafting sentences appropriate for each defendant, and focusing on probation, the Court can improve the criminal justice system by matching justice with mercy. 

The LBA also took time to honor one of its longest-serving members and to support one of its newest. Judge Charles W. Trombly was awarded the 50-Year Service Award for his distinguished service to the community and the bar as a lawyer and judge for 50 years. Accepting the award, he provided the gathering with his unique perspective on the practice of law and thanked the LBA for recognizing him. The LBA also honored two law students from the Lawrence, Andover, North Andover, and Methuen area with the Sergeant Battershill Fund Scholarship and the LBA Education Trust Scholarship.

New Impoundment Rule for Trial Court Now in Effect

Probate and family law lawyers should be aware that a new impoundment rule for Trial Court went into effect on October 1, 2015. 

Details and a procedural handbook can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/rules-of-court/trial-court/tc-rule-8-impound/

As written, Rule 13(b) of the Trial Court Impoundment Rules would require that the filer of a document file a notice to the clerk that the document contains impounded information even if the information or document is impounded by statute, court rule, standing order or case law.  The Probate and Family Court has promulgated a Standing Order which provides that the filer of certain documents, listed in the Standing Order, is exempt from filing the Rule 15(b) notice.  Please review the Standing Order for the list of documents.

BBO Seeking Hearing Committee Members

The Board of Bar Overseers is encouraging interested attorneys and other members of the public across the Commonwealth to apply for appointment to a three-year term as a volunteer Hearing Committee member. Hearing Committees sit locally in panels of three as fact- finding tribunals in disciplinary proceedings brought against individual attorneys by the Office of Bar Counsel. The Committees hear testimony, take evidence, make adjudicatory rulings, and prepare a written report and recommendation for the Board of Bar Overseers. 

Committee members receive no monetary compensation and devote their time as a public service in the vital interest of preserving the integrity of the legal profession. There are about one hundred forty Committee members, and the Board is seeking to fill vacancies across the Commonwealth. 

The Board seeks to maintain a broad-based representation of attorneys and members of the public within the Committee ranks, and strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, small-firm practitioners and individuals in public service. Résumés of interested attorneys (with at least ten or more years of professional experience) and members of the public (excluding paralegals and those employed in a legal-related field) should be sent to Sandra Mahabir, by mail at: Board of Bar Overseers, 99 High Street, Boston, MA 02110, or e-mail at: s.mahabir@massbbo.org on or before October 31, 2015. Members of the public are also requested to complete an application form available on our website at http://www.mass.gov/obcbbo/volunt.htm

Spring Dinner 'Ducks, Avoids, and Evades'

The Lawrence Bar Association held its annual Spring Dinner at the North Andover Country Club on Tuesday. Despite the lingering snow, the members of the LBA gathered to honor one of its distinguished members and to hear from one of the legal community's strongest voices. LBA President Mark Machera and former President Jim Krasnoo each provided context for the evening and the introductions. 

The LBA honored Mary McCabe with its Leadership Award, given to someone who exemplifies the model characteristics of a lawyer both with their clients and in the community.  Upon accepting the award, Judge McCabe was quick to share the spotlight with so many who gave so much of themselves helping kids with special needs to attend camp. She also noted the importance and the uniqueness of the Lawrence Bar Association - and some of its members by name - as serving important roles in the community and in her own development.  

Hon. Nancy Gertner was the featured speaker for the evening, and provided thoughts on the importance of the judiciary in the lives of people appearing before it in a speech titled "Duck, Avoid, Evade: The Problem with Federal Courts". She noted that it should not be the goal of the judiciary - despite its regular insistence to the contrary - to focus on 'clearing cases off its plate' but rather to give the cases, and more importantly the people involved, which was exemplified in her poignant anecdotes about people to appear before her. 

For a full gallery of photos from the evening, click on the photo below. 

Court Service Center Coming Soon but Needs Input

The Court Service Center will officially be opening and thereby taking over a big chunk of the Lawrence Law Library in mid-April. The plan is to have all four Court Service Centers open by June this year. There will be a fairly large "General Space" area in the law library where attorneys can do brown bag lunches, CLE presentations, meetings and the like.

The next Court Service Center meeting is on Friday, March 27 at 1:00 p.m. at Lawrence Law Library if anyone wants to attend. At that meeting, we should also be introduced to the manger who will run the Lawrence CS Center. 

Changes to Pretrial Conference Report Form and Jury Waiver Recommendations

The Trial Court of Massachusetts, District Court Department recently announced promulgation of recommendations of the Supreme Judicial Court Working Group on jury waiver.  As of February 18, 2015, the Lawrence District Court will require use of new Pretrial Conference Report forms incorporating the changes. All existing Pretrial Conference Report forms should be discarded as of that date.

For additional information about the recommendations regarding jury waiver, see the memo from Hon. Paul C. Dawley, Chief Justice explaining the changes. The new Pretrial Conference Report form and Motion Pursuant to Rule 19(a) for Relief from Election of Jury or Jury-Waived Trial can also be downloaded from the District Court Forms page