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Massachusetts Bar Association releases Drug Policy Task Force report

Report calls sentencing of nonviolent drug offenders too harsh and costly; says complete overhaul of state’s failed system necessary

Massachusetts must enact meaningful drug reform for nonviolent offenders, focusing on education and treatment instead of incarceration and punishment, according to a report of the MBA Drug Policy Task Force released today at the Statehouse. Mandatory minimum sentencing reform and diversion to treatment, alone, could save the state more than $25 million a year.

“This comprehensive report has identified many ways in which our drug policy in Massachusetts needs repair,” said David W. White Jr., MBA past president and chair of the task force. “These are problems that we cannot afford to ignore. We have made several recommendations which will reduce the rate of crime, which will save the taxpayers money and which will help rebuild families and communities.”

Converting from criminal prosecution of nonviolent drug offenders to treatment of their addictions is the overall message of the report, “The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth.” A product of more than one year of research and consideration, the report was created by a task force of nearly three dozen prominent leaders, including lawyers, law enforcement, the judiciary, mental health professionals, physicians, social workers and public policy advocates.

The report’s recommendations would result in substantial savings. Specifically, diverting non-violent drug possession offenders to treatment instead of incarceration could save $8 million in annual costs. An additional $17 million in annual savings could be realized through mandatory minimum sentencing reform, including parole after two-thirds of a sentence is served in state prison and parole after one-half of a sentence is served in county correctional facilities.

The task force has called on Gov. Deval Patrick and the Legislature to implement recommendations for both the short and long term.

Short-term recommendations include:

  • Implement diversion programs for nonviolent offenders with drug addiction;
  • Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences linked to school zones and other drug crimes;
  • Enhance opportunities for work-release, parole and “good conduct” credit;
  • Restore suspended and split sentences; and
  • Create a centralized bureau to handle treatment programs for non-violent drug offenders.

Long-term recommendations include:

  • Increase treatment to meet demand;
  • Rethink and increase educational programs;
  • Improve treatment resources, including public health liaisons in the courts; and
  • Better utilize parole to promote reintegration of incarcerated individuals.

Click here for a copy of the MBA's Drug Policy Task Force's report, "The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth."

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Photo courtesy of Lang, Xifaras & Bullard

MBA to honor Margaret D. Xifaras with President's Award

Xifaras is a 28-year member of MBA, former Family Law Section chair

Margaret D. Xifaras, Esq., of Lang, Xifaras & Bullard in New Bedford, has been selected to receive the MBA President's Award.

The award is bestowed by the MBA president upon those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work of the MBA, to the preservation of MBA values, to the success of MBA initiatives, and to the promotion of the MBA leadership role within the legal community of Massachusetts.

"MarDee is at the forefront of every progressive effort to enhance access to justice in the commonwealth," said MBA President Edward W. McIntyre. "Even from her days in the Peace Corps, MarDee has worked tirelessly, and creatively, to develop avenues for women and children to achieve social and economic justice. She has been a wise and quiet advisor to bar leaders for over a quarter century."

Xifaras is a 28-year member of the MBA, former chair of the Family Law Section, and frequent panelist and presenter on family law and ethics issues. In addition, Xifaras is a former trustee and MBF past president, as well as MBF Louis D. Brandeis Life Fellow. In 2003, Xifaras received the MBF's "Great Friend of Justice" award. Xifaras is also the former chair of the Board of Trustees at Southern New England Law School.

Xifaras will be presented the President's Award at the MBA's Volunteer Appreciation Reception on Wednesday, June 24, 5:30 p.m., John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Boston. Click here to R.S.V.P.

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Advisory Committee accepting federal district court applications

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has announced that the Advisory Committee established to recommend candidates for U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal will also recommend candidates for the vacant seat on the federal district court. The Advisory Committee is accepting applications for the next 30 days and is chaired by MBA Past President Michael E. Mone.

Click here for application information.
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News from the Courts

Fitchburg District Court designated Gelinas Courthouse to honor judicial legacy

The Fitchburg District Court was designated as the Gelinas Courthouse on June 16 in honor of the contributions of the late Hon. A. Andre Gelinas and the Hon. Andre A. Gelinas to the judiciary, bar and civic affairs of Fitchburg for more than 85 years.

Judge Andre A. Gelinas served on the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 1999 to 2008 after serving as a judge on the District Court since 1979. He now serves as the special advisor to the chief justice for administration and management for information technology. His late father, Hon. A. Andre Gelinas, was appointed in 1931 as a special justice of the Fitchburg District Court and later served as assistant district attorney and district attorney in Worcester County. In 1924, he founded the law firm Gelinas & Ward.

The ceremony featured U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman, who served as master of ceremonies. Speakers included Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin, Appeals Court Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan and District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly. Fitchburg Mayor Lisa A. Wong, Rep. Stephen L. DiNatale, Sen. Jennifer L. Flanagan, former Sen. Robert Antonioni and former Worcester County Assistant District Attorney Warren C. Lane also delivered remarks.

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Law Practice Management Tip of the Week

Need an efficient way to track e-mail communication?

Download Xobni for your Outlook e-mail. Xobni allows you to search for individuals and access their contact and social network information. Xobni will also rank your network by number of e-mails exchanged and will even tell you the time of day when you communicate the most. In addition, Xobni tracks conversation threads and files exchanged. It will also tell you who else is in your shared network. Xobni is a fun application for Outlook that can save time and make your communications more efficient.

This tip is courtesy of Andrea Goldman, Esq., of the Law Office of Andrea Goldman in Newton.


For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.

To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, contact Co-Chairs Alan J. Klevan or Rodney Dowell.
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MBA co-sponsoring the Third Annual Green Office Conference, June 23

Incorporate Eco-Tips into your office practices and become more environmentally friendly

The Massachusetts Bar Association is co-sponsoring the Third Annual Green Office Conference on Tuesday, June 23, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the UMass-Boston Campus Center, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston. MBA members will save 25 percent off the registration fee.

MassRecycle LogoThis unique conference features seven workshops focusing on reducing business costs and attracting customers by greening office operations. Meet business leaders who have implemented sustainable programs in their offices and get project ideas for your firm. Topics include:

  • Green Purchasing: Beyond the Basics;
  • Cutting Costs and Cutting Carbon;
  • Zero Waste: Tools to Make it Happen in Your Office;
  • Telecommuting and Commuter-Friendly Office;
  • Building Green Value: Communicating with Your Customers;
  • Successful Green Teams and Their Projects; and
  • Green Office Action Plans: Baselines, Goals, Benefits and Savings.

All attendees receive, for free:

  1. Green Office Manual CD or book; and
  2. Green Office Kit with product samples.

Win free prizes. Attendees will be eligible to win pro bono site visits and services from six consultants who specialize in helping others go green.

This conference is presented by MassRecycle in partnership with the MBA, Massachusetts Operational Services Division (OSD), and the UMass-Boston's UMBe Green Program.

To register, and for a full schedule, visit www.massrecycle.org/greenoffice/.

When registering, use the "MassRecycle Member" registration option to receive your MBA member discount.


Sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to participate in the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge. By signing the pledge, lawyers agree to do their best to adhere to the MBA's Green Guidelines, Office Management and/or Green Guidelines, Landscape Management.
Eco-Tips are now sent out on a biweekly basis. The next Eco-Tip will be included in the July 2 edition of e-Journal.

June 18
Click here to view more Eco-Tips.
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Photograph by Tricia Oliver
Left to right: Health Law Section and conference Co-Chair George M. Thompson Jr., Sager & Schaffer LLP, Westborough; Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, House chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services; Health Law Section and conference Co-Chair Frank J. Riccio, Esq., Law Office of Frank J. Riccio, Braintree; MBA Acting Executive Director and General Counsel Martin W. Healy.

June conference wrap-up

Koutoujian encourages attorneys to continue to advocate on Beacon Hill

Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, House chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, served as the keynote speaker at the Health Law Conference held on June 5 at the MBA Boston office.

Koutoujian was the final speaker at the half-day educational conference that attracted more than 60 attorneys. Conference goers chose between two tracks of programming — business or liability issues. Specific topics covered included employment issues, privacy (HIPAA), DPH investigations and medical/dental negligence.

“Attorneys can be great advocates,” said Koutoujian, an attorney himself, who encouraged attendees to continue to advocate and “teach” legislators on Beacon Hill. “A call or outreach can matter a great deal.”

Following Koutoujian’s presentation, a robust debate on medical malpractice concluded the program.


Former AG Harshbarger decries culture of ethics abuses at Public Law conference

Public Law Conference 2009Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger delivered an impassioned call for ethics and lobbying reform during his keynote speech at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Third Annual Public Law Conference in Boston on June 10.

Harshbarger, senior counsel at Proskauer Rose LLP in Boston, recently sat on the Governor’s Task Force on Public Integrity, which issued a report in January calling for a number of specific changes to stanch ethics violations by improving oversight and enforcement. "Officials need the tools to investigate and enforce violations," he said, expressing “deep disappointment” in a “culture” that tolerates ethical abuses.

“Democracy erodes when people lose confidence that government is representing them,” he said. Gov. Deval Patrick appointed the task force last fall amid high-profile investigations, including the arrests of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. Former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi, who resigned in January, was indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges in June.

“The shocking part is that we needed to wait this long to give public officials the tools to do their jobs,” Harshbarger told the audience. “To hold public officials accountable, you have to have the tools.”

Photo:  From left to right: Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger; Conference Co-Chair Jennifer Cartee, Office of the Attorney General, Boston; Public Law Section and Conference Co-Chair Margaret J. Hurley, Office of the Attorney General, Boston; MBA Acting Executive Director and General Counsel Martin W. Healy. Photo by Bill Archambeault.

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Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Mark your calendars with summer CLE programs

CLE Heading

To register for the following programs, call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530, [e-mail membership] or visit the CLE Web site. To download a PDF of the June/July CLE brochure, click here.  

This week's highlighted programs include:
  • Summer CLE programs
  • Casemaker Webinars

Scroll down for program descriptions, dates and registration details.


Drafting the Simple Will
Course #: PLY09 / Tuesday, July 14, 4–7 p.m.

Elder Law Basics

Course #: PLW09 / Wednesday, July 15, 4–7 p.m.

Estate Planning Solutions to Problems Luncheon Roundtable
Course #: PLZ09 / Wednesday, July 15, noon-1 p.m.

District Court Survival Guide – Civil Practice

Course #: CLDD09 / Monday, July 20, 4–6:30 p.m.

Trial Practice Luncheon Roundtable Series: Pre-trial Preparation and Jury Issues Luncheon Roundtable
Course #: CLFF09 / Tuesday, July 21, noon–2 p.m.

Fundamentals of Civil Motion Practice
Course #: CLBB09 / Tuesday, July 28, 4–7 p.m.

Basics of Divorce Practice
Course #: FLR09 / Wednesday, July 29, 4–7 p.m.

Basics of Developing an Estate Plan
Course #: PLX09 / Thursday, July 30, 4–7 p.m.

Immigration Law Essentials

Course #: IME09 / Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2–6 p.m.

Handling Depositions with Confidence

Course #: CLCC09 / Monday, Aug. 10, 2–5 p.m.

District Court Survival Guide — Criminal Practice

Course #: CLEE09 / Monday, Aug. 17, 4–6:30 p.m.

Trial Practice Luncheon Roundtable Series: Trial Issues Luncheon Roundtable
Course #: CLGG09 / Thursday, Aug. 20, noon–2 p.m.

Preparing to File a Lawsuit

Course #: CLHH09 / Monday, Aug. 24, 4–7 p.m.


Want to learn more about the capabilities of Casemaker 2.1 straight from the source? Attend a complimentary Web training session to review the enhancements and new functionality of Casemaker 2.1 from the comfort of your home or office.

Space is limited. Click here to reserve your place at the last Webinar in June.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2 p.m.


©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association