Lawyers Journal

News from the Courts

Nominations for 2010 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards due July 16

To recognize outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged, the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services is seeking nominations for the 2010 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards.

The deadline for nominations is July 16. Nominations should be submitted to:

Richard McMahon, Esq.
The 2010 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards
c/o South Coastal Counties Legal Services Inc.
P.O. Box 2507,
22 Bedford St., 2nd floor
Fall River, MA 02722-2507

Contact Jeanne Marcotte at (774) 488-5942 or [e-mail jmarcotte] with questions.

Nominations submitted in 2009 remain active for consideration in the 2010 awards program.

This year, the prestigious Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards will be presented in a ceremony at the John Adams Courthouse on Oct. 27 in conjunction with the American Bar Association's recognition of National Pro Bono Week.

Named in honor of attorneys John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards recognize individual lawyers, small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, and other institutions in the legal profession in Massachusetts that have "enhanced the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to our Commonwealth's poor and disadvantaged."

The Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services will select awardees from among those who have excelled in providing volunteer services in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Volunteer participation in an activity or pro bono program which resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs or in extending services to underserved segments of the population;
  2. Successfully litigated pro bono cases that favorably affected the provision of other services to the poor; and/or
  3. Successfully achieved legislation that contributed substantially to legal services to the poor.

Established in August 1999, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services works to promote volunteer legal work in Massachusetts to help people of limited means who are in need of legal representation, in accordance with SJC Rule 6.1, Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service ("for the public good"). Attorney Mary Ryan, of Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP, chairs the committee.

Housing Court-supported tenancy program receives positive review

A report on the Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) run by MassHousing in partnership with the Housing Court has concluded that the program is highly effective in preventing homelessness among tenants with mental disabilities. The recently-issued report, conducted by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, also reflects that TPP is exceptionally cost effective in preventing at-risk households from being evicted as a result of behaviors related to mental disabilities.

"The Donahue Institute Report on the Tenancy Preservation Program confirms that it is a critical resource for preventing homelessness among some of the most vulnerable members of our society," said Chief Justice of the Housing Court Steven Pierce. "The Housing Court has expanded the program throughout the state, based on the positive outcomes that we have achieved for these families in collaboration with MassHousing."

The detailed study of 676 TPP cases was conducted from January 2008 through June 2009 and involved 732 adult tenants, 581 minor children and 106 adult children. The study concluded that the average cost of a TPP case was just $2,377.

TPP was started by MassHousing in 1999 in Springfield and has since expanded statewide to all five divisions of the Housing Court. TPP attempts to prevent homelessness by addressing tenancy problems of vulnerable residents who are at risk of eviction for lease violations resulting from mental illness, substance abuse, mental retardation, elderly dementia or other mental impairments.

TPP functions as a neutral party between the landlord and tenant. In consultation with the Housing Court, TPP works with the property owner and tenant to determine whether the disability can be reasonably accommodated and the tenancy preserved. If the tenancy cannot be preserved, TPP can assist the tenant in transitioning to other suitable housing.

TPP is a collaborative effort between MassHousing, the Department of Housing and Community Development, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and regional social service providers.

Trial Court Green Team accomplishments highlighted, new chair announced

Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan announced a change in leadership and highlighted the many accomplishments of the Trial Court Green Team at the energy task force's meeting in late May. He advised the interdepartmental group that Chair Margaret Cavanaugh of Court Capital Projects has decided to retire and will transition team leadership to Linda Rowe of Human Resources and chair of the Recycling Subcommittee.

"In just two years, this committee has enabled the Trial Court to make tremendous progress, including major reductions in energy and utility expenses," said Mulligan. "Margaret Cavanaugh has led this effort with energy and enthusiasm that has inspired the subcommittee chairs, the entire team and environmentally-conscious volunteers across the Trial Court."

Mulligan presented Cavanaugh with a certificate of appreciation and thanked her for her leadership. He also expressed confidence that Rowe will continue the team's positive momentum.

Mulligan highlighted the efforts of Energy Subcommittee Chair Judge Therese Wright and Communications Committee Chair Michael O'Loughlin and commended the energetic and creative participation of all team members. The team has worked closely with Court Facilities and Court Capital Projects and collaborated with DCAM and the Division of Energy Resources, particularly the Lead by Example Program

Mulligan reviewed a number of Green Team accomplishments that resulted in the Trial Court's receipt of the Leading By Example Award, which was presented in October to only two statewide entities by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) at the Statehouse.

Green Team accomplishments include the following:

  • Launched joint program of Energy Performance Contracting Projects on state-owned courthouses; three projects to plan energy consumption reduction in concert with DCAM making capital investment repairs and replacements that will be paid for by energy savings;
  • Introduced paper recycling at every state-owned court location. Revised waste collection contracts to expand to single stream recycling with plastic, glass and metal, as feasible;
  • Collected more than 48,000 pounds of e-waste through pilot effort in the BMC, which was expanded across the Trial Court for a net savings of $42,000;
  • Reduced energy costs by $2.9 million in fiscal 2009 and projected an additional $1.5 million reduction in fiscal 2010 in the use of electricity, gas and water/sewer, based on Court Facilities analysis;
  • Implemented demand response program at eight large courthouses to reduce usage of electricity in the event of a power emergency;
  • Conducted green fairs in Worcester and Plymouth; Produced quarterly e-newsletter for all Trial Court employees to expand awareness and provide energy conservation tips;
  • Collected 200 Cell Phones for Soldiers with assistance of 40 employee volunteers;
  • Introduced statewide fluorescent bulb and ballast recycling program; and
  • Met LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification requirements for new courthouse projects in Fall River, Taunton, Salem and Lowell. Where opportunities exist, LEED Silver certification will be sought.

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