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Photograph by Christine Peterson
MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus (right) presents the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award to Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in October 2009. The award has been bestowed only five times, including when it was originally given to SJC Chief Justice Hennessey in 1988.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall to retire in October

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall yesterday announced her intention to resign by the end of October 2010, citing her husband's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease as the reason for her early retirement.

Marshall's announcement comes as the Massachusetts judicial system continues to grapple with devastating budget reductions. She said that her decision to resign was made in spite of budget cuts, emphasizing that "because of the budget shortcuts, it will be difficult for the system to live up to delivering justice."

Marshall has spoken out forcefully against budget cuts to the justice system, citing a report developed since 2002 on resources necessary for the courts to function in Massachusetts. Though she commended the courts' employees for upholding justice, she stressed that this could only work for a very short period of time, saying, "It is very possible to run a sprint if you don't have to run a marathon."

The South African-born Harvard alumna was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by former governor William F. Weld in 1996. She pointed to the lack of justice in her childhood country as one of the foremost reasons why she respects the freedoms and justice accorded by the Massachusetts Constitution. Marshall saw her role on the SJC to be extremely important to protecting those rights for citizens of Massachusetts.

"To one who loves the law as I do, there is no greater joy than shaping the law," she said. "My presence on this court is a great treasure."

Throughout her tenure on the court, Marshall has overseen some controversial cases. The most famous is arguably Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, in which the SJC approved same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2003. When asked about Goodridge, however, Marshall responded, "For me, every case has that importance. It's difficult to know which decisions will have great impact."

While on the SJC, Marshall has authored over 300 decisions. Though Goodridge will inevitably stand out for many, she mentioned three cases that she considered most important, based on how often other courts considered her decision. These included:

  • Haglund v. Philip Morris, Inc., where the SJC ruled that a cigarette manufacturer could not defend against lung cancer cases by asserting "unreasonable use" of the cigarette;
  • Renzi v. Paredes, where the SJC ruled that a patient could sue for a lost chance of survival due to a misdiagnosis; and
  • Salvas vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where the SJC ordered certification of a class action suit over lost wages and employees' meal breaks.

Marshall stressed that she valued her time on the court and thanked both Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray for their help, as well as the associate justices of the SJC. "I feel very privileged to serve the commonwealth," she said, "but I take great comfort knowing that with you the court rests in wonderful hands."

Click here to view MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus' statement regarding Marshall's retirement announcement.

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New Massachusetts Law Review available

The volume 93, number 1, issue of Massachusetts Law Review was mailed this week to members. The issue's content focuses on access to justice issues and includes an introduction from the Hon. Herbert P. Wilkins (ret.), former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. Articles include:

  • "The Twin Imperatives of Providing Access to Justice and Establishing a Civil Gideon;"
  • "Secrets of Governments, Enterprises and Individuals Affecting Access to Justice;"
  • "Access to Justice in Juvenile Court;"
  • "Prisoners at Guantanamo: Is There Any Real Relief A Court Can Give?;" and
  • "Non-lawyer Representation in Court and Agency hearing of Litigants Who Cannot Obtain Lawyers."

Also, a book review of When Law Fails-Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice is included in this themed issue.

Click here to view the issue online.

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News from the courts

Land Court to relocate to state-owned building

Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan has announced that efforts are underway to relocate the Land Court Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court to the Suffolk County Courthouse at Pemberton Square.  Relocation of the Land Court, which currently occupies private leased space at 226 Causeway St. in Boston, will realize annual savings exceeding $2.7 million.

"The size of the Trial Court's FY11 budget gap requires aggressive action on the Land Court lease, one of the largest leases in our portfolio," said Mulligan. "The move of an entire court department reflects the unprecedented actions necessary given our appropriation this year. We plan to relocate the court by the end of December to maximize available savings. The Legislature has provided the Trial Court with the authority to manage lease expenses in addressing the significant budget shortfall."

Mulligan also commended those affected by the move. "I want to recognize the extraordinary cooperation of those who work in the Land Court, the Superior Court and the Office of Community Corrections to ensure that this relocation is accomplished smoothly and successfully," he said.

"The entire Trial Court is under pressure to cut costs and deliver services," said Land Court Chief Justice Karyn Scheier.  "Wherever the Land Court is located, we will work hard to honor our long history and serve the real estate bar and the public at the highest level possible, given our resources."

The Trial Court Relocation Committee included termination of the Land Court lease among its recently announced preliminary recommendations, which were based on a review of all 103 courthouse facilities. The court will move into space in the Suffolk County High Rise Courthouse now occupied by several programs operated by the Office of Community Corrections.

The Trial Court's FY11 budget stands at $534.8 million, which compares with an FY10 budget of $559.5 million and FY09 initial appropriation of $605.1 million. An absolute hiring freeze in the Trial Court has resulted in the loss of more than 700 employees since 2008.

The Land Court also has been severely impacted by the surge in foreclosures generated by the fiscal crisis and by the hiring freeze, which puts the court below 50 percent of optimal staffing levels. The court, comprised of seven judges with statewide jurisdiction, received more than 26,000 filings in FY09.

Upcoming CLE seminar and program schedule

Register for the "Handling Depositions with Confidence" seminar on Aug. 3

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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 July/August CLE brochure, click here.

Scroll down for program details including dates and registration details.

Recorded program Recorded session available for purchase after live program through MBA On Demand.

Live program Real-time Webcast available for purchase through MBA On Demand.


Employment Law Basics Recorded program
Monday, July 26, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Fundamentals of Civil Motion Practice Recorded program
Wednesday, July 28, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Basics of Developing an Estate Plan Recorded program
Thursday, July 29, 4-7 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Legal Chat @ Noon: Roth IRA Conversions: An In-Depth Discussion, Including the Rules in a Nutshell, Strategies and Tax Traps Recorded program
This program is only available via MBA On Demand. No live program will take place.
Available beginning Tuesday, August 3
Featuring Stephen A. Colella of DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP, Woburn

Handling Depositions with Confidence Recorded program
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2-5 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston

Immigration Law Essentials Recorded program
Thursday, Aug. 5, 2-6 p.m.
MBA, 20 West St., Boston



20th Annual Family Law Conference
Friday, Nov. 12 - Saturday, Nov. 13
Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club, 55 Lee Road, Lenox


MBA On Demand in line

Unable to attend these seminars? Purchase the recorded session available after the live program through MBA On Demand and watch the presentation from the comfort of your home or office.

To view a listing of current programs offered on MBA On Demand, click here.



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Classified postings are FREE to members and are available to non-members at a special promotional rate of $25.

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