Criminal Justice Newsletter

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Welcome to the April edition of the Criminal Law Section Council newsletter, containing information about CLE programs, meetings, hot legal developments and other section news.

At its February meeting, the Criminal Justice Section Council welcomed Probation Commissioner Ron Corbett to discuss the current landscape of the Probation Department, its challenges going forward, and Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to move the Probation Department to the executive branch. The council also began a discussion on the potential use of videoconferencing in lieu of in-person attendance of incarcerated defendants in Superior Court. The council decided to continue this discussion in subsequent meetings to understand the varying perspectives on the issue, including that of judges, defense attorneys, defendants and corrections.

At its March meeting, the council received status reports from its liaisons. A member of the subcommittee to study and evaluate "harassment prevention orders" under Chapter 258E informed the council that its members are in the process of surveying courts in various counties to determine the use and potential abuse of these orders. Additionally, our section editor invited members to submit articles on current criminal justice issues for publication in the Lawyers Journal. The council also briefly discussed the practice of obtaining, at arraignment, a defendant's waiver to his right to be present at his trial, but the council tabled this discussion to gather more information on the use of this practice and its effect on the bail and trial process. Finally, the council continued its discussion about videoconferencing, discussing proposals to address some of the objections to the practice. Specifically, the council learned about new technology that has the potential to permit real-time private conversations between attorneys and clients during court proceedings and high-definition video to allow incarcerated defendants to see, and be seen, in a more realistic light.

The section council always welcomes suggestions from you as section members and, if you are interested, invites you to volunteer to work with the council members to plan and implement programs. To volunteer, contact Jean Stevens or go to the Criminal Justice Web site council directory and e-mail any council member.

Michael Fabbri, chair
Radha Natarajan, vice chair
Criminal Justice Section Council

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