Lawyers Journal

Campbell cites need to protect courts and rule of law at 2011-12 reception

At the Sept. 8 reception launching his 2011-12 term as president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Richard P. Campbell decried the lack of adequate funding for the state's court system, saying it was crucial to protecting the rule of law.

"Our way of living is dependent on the rule of law, and the rule of law is under attack now, because without properly funded and operating courts, the rule of law will diminish, and with it, so too will the quality of our lives."

(See Campbell's President's View column in the September issue of Lawyers Journal to read about his three priorities for the 2011-12 term.)

"Dick brings great stature to this position. He has been successful wherever he's been," MBA Past President Michael E. Mone (1993-94) in his introduction. Mone also praised Campbell's advocacy in combating underage drinking

Speaking three days before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Campbell talked about the role that MBA leaders played in its aftermath. As the chair of the American Bar Association's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Campbell held the section's first meeting about a month after the attack. Much of that meeting was spent eulogizing a young lawyer he knew, Kirsten Christophe, who had just returned from maternity leave. She worked on the 101st floor at the World Trade Center.

"I raise 9/11 with you tonight because I want to bring to your attention again the huge role that Massachusetts lawyers played in the aftermath of that terrible disaster," Campbell said, referencing the efforts of Leo Boyle, Ken Feinberg, Mike Greco, Kathy  O'Donnell, Michael Mone Jr. and others.

"Fast forward to 2011," Campbell said. "Massachusetts lawyers face another important challenge to the rule of law. It may not be tied as directly to violence and mayhem, but it is nonetheless under attack. Courthouses are closing and those that continue to operate have diminished hours of operation. Court staffs are suffering layoffs, furloughs and pay freezes. Judges are leaving the bench at alarming rates."

Campbell used examples -- such as residents expecting the electricity to work if they pay their bills, or not having to pay a cop a bribe if they get pulled over -- to illustrate how "our way of life depends on the viability of the rule of law."

Campbell said he hopes a future MBA president will be able to look back with relief that the MBA successfully fought for adequate court funding. "Ten years from now, hopefully another MBA president will reflect back on 2011 and tell the audience at this reception that the members of the MBA played a pivotal role in keeping our courts open and vibrant," Campbell said. "I look forward to working in that direction, and I look forward to working with all of you."

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