Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
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News from the courts

Judge Mark D Mason named chair of Trial Court ADR Committee; Proposed amendments to SJC Rule 1:19, 4:02 and Rule 8 of the Mass. Rules of Appellate Procedure

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Judge Mark D Mason named chair of Trial Court ADR Committee

Judge MasonChief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan has named Springfield District Court Judge and MBA Past President Mark D Mason to chair the Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution, which has been chaired since its inception by Hampshire County Probate and Family Court First Justice Gail P. Perlman, who will retire in the spring.

"I am pleased that Judge Mason has agreed to assume the leadership on this issue," said Chief Justice Mulligan. "The focus on ADR in the Trial Court has been the result of collaboration between the trial court, the bar and the public at large. Thecurrent fiscal constraints in the Trial Court enhance the value of this option for litigants."

The Standing Committee has successfully implemented and overseen the commonwealth's court-connected dispute resolution services in the Trial Court since it was formed in 2005 to advise the CJAM on these issues. The 20-member Committee assists programs, judges, Trial Court employees and litigants to make use of conflict resolution options as part of the modern justice system. It is comprised of judges and court personnel from all Trial Court Departments, along with attorneys and providers of dispute resolution services.

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Proposed Amendments
  • SJC Rule 1:19: Cameras in the Courts: The Supreme Judicial Court Rules Committee solicits comments on proposed amendments to SJC Rule 1:19: Cameras in the Courts. The amendments were recommended by the Supreme Judicial Court's Judiciary-Media Committee. They were  drafted by a subcommittee created to review the current rule and recommend changes in light of advances in technology and journalism since the rule was promulgated. The proposed revisions change the name of the rule to Electronic Access to the Courts. They also include an expanded definition of media and a requirement that media register with the Court's Public Information Office. The proposed amendments allow the media to possess and operate electronic devices in the courtroom, subject to certain restrictions. Live blogging from the courtroom generally would be permissible. Click here for more information.
  • S.J.C. Rule 4:02: The Supreme Judicial Court Rules Committee solicits comments on a proposed amendment to S.J.C. Rule 4:02. The amendment, proposed by the Board of Bar Overseers, would require the board and bar counsel to keep lawyers' home addresses disclosed on registration statements confidential, unless a home address is also a lawyer's place of business. Persons seeking a  lawyer's confidential home address from the board would be required to obtain authorization from a single justice. The proposed amendment is intended to protect the security of lawyers while allowing  the board and bar counsel to conduct their business. Click here for more information. The amendment would insert the following  new section in SJC Rule 4:02:

    (10)  Residential Addresses Confidential. Residential addresses disclosed on registration statements, except those designated as the registrant's place of business, shall be treated as confidential and shall be used by the board and by bar counsel only for the purpose of communicating with registrants or otherwise in the course of the business of the board or bar counsel.  Other than in the course of such business, neither the board or bar counsel shall disclose any such residential address to any third party unless directed to do so by order of this court for Suffolk County.
  • Rule 8 of the Mass. Rules of Appellate Procedure: The Supreme Judicial Court's Working Group on Rule 8 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure solicits comments on proposed amendments to Mass. R.A.P. 8(b) and a proposed administrative order. The working group was established by the Supreme Judicial Court to review the current rule and recommend appropriate changes. The proposed amendments substantially rewrite and simplify the rule, particularly with regard to transcripts of electronically recorded proceedings. Many of the proposed changes reflect the widespread use of new digital audio recording systems in the trial court. The proposed amendments recognize the role of the Office of Transcription Services (OTS), the office within the Administrative Office of the Trial Court that manages transcript preparation.

    In addition to the amended rule, the working group proposes that the administrative details for transcript orders be included in an administrative order to be issued by the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court. Click here for more information. The procedures proposed to be governed by the administrative order include:

    1. A requirement that transcripts be submitted electronically in pdf format. The electronic copy will reduce the need for additional paper copies and facilitate the distribution of the transcript to the parties.
    2. The establishment of a uniform procedure for payment for transcripts in civil cases. The ordering party is required to pay fifty percent of the estimated cost at the time the order is placed and the balance upon completion of the transcript.
    3. The establishment of a standard "presumptive list" of proceedings to be transcribed in criminal and child welfare cases. The clerk's office initiates the order in these cases and the presumptive list will reduce delay and provide uniformity. Appellate counsel may identify other proceedings that should be transcribed.
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