MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. called to order the first
House of Delegates meeting for the 2012-13 association year at the
MBA offices in Boston.
As his first report of the year, Holloway shared with the group
his priorities - membership, education and media/public relations.
He also mentioned that he'd be focusing on outreach to
Massachusetts' affiliated county bars and meeting with various
civic groups across the state.
Holloway, fresh off of a meeting with SJC Chief Justice Roderick
L. Ireland and Trial Court Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan,
expressed commitment to further enhancing bench-bar communications.
To that end, he mentioned the first in a series of informal
receptions for the bench and bar to be held in Essex County in the
"We hope to move that into other counties," Holloway said.
He has also tapped attorney Christa Arcos, along with judges
Stephen E. Neel (ret.) and Peter M. Lauriat to begin discussing the
issues arising from the lack of law clerks in Superior Court.
Holloway encouraged all delegates to follow his lead and serve
as "ambassadors for our profession." He also set the expectation
for each delegate to recruit one new member over the next
Holloway was followed by MBA President-elect Douglas K. Sheff,
who gave an overview of the three key committees formed to focus on
the association's priorities. The Membership Committee is chaired
by MBA Vice President Christopher P. Sullivan, the Education
Committee is being co-chaired by MBA Treasurer Marsha V. Kazarosian
and MBA Past President David W. White Jr., while the Media
Committee is being led by Sheff.
MBA Vice President Robert W. Harnais followed with brief remarks
concentrating on an initiative that ties into MBA's continued
efforts to address the socioeconomic issues plaguing the state's
so-called "Gateway Communities." Harnais explained that meetings
with members of the federal bench and Chief of the U.S. Probation
Department for Massachusetts Christopher Maloney have led to the
MBA's involvement in a re-entry program for federal inmates.
Harnais handed off the microphone to Kazarosian who spoke more
about the recharged MBA Education Committee, sharing that the group
will be working with volunteer members and staff to present CLE
offerings that are "current, more dynamic and cost-effective." As
treasurer, Kazarosian reported that numbers for FY12 look to be
slightly better than budget and membership renewals for this
association year (FY13) are on budget.
Secretary Martha Rush O'Mara fielded a few edits to the minutes
of the last delegates meeting in May, before the delegation
approved them as corrected.
Officer reports were followed by an update from Chief Legal
Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. Healy touched
upon the crisis with the DPH drug lab and its far-reaching impact
on the criminal justice system, describing it as "unprecedented"
both in Massachusetts and nationally. Roughly 60,000 samples have
been reported to have handled by rogue chemist in the Jamaica
Plain-based lab. Healy explained that such discourse is believed to
have affected more than 30,000 cases, some potentially ending in
wrongful incarceration or deportation.
"The MBA has been collaborating with key government offices on
this issue," said Healy, who ended his remarks on this topic by
further characterizing the situation as a "colossal, political
Healy described a busy summer for the MBA, including the work of
the Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments. The group,
comprised of representatives from both the MBA and the Boston Bar
Association, reviewed the credentials of 13 judicial candidates
over the summer season.
Following reports, the first order of business for the HOD to
consider was related to House Bill No. 25 that amends certain
articles of the Uniform Commercial Code. Francis C. Morrissey, a
former Business Law chair for the MBA, presented to the group,
explaining that the bill would further harmonize how the code is
adhered to and provide necessary updates to the UCC. Delegates
agreed and voted in favor of supporting the bill in principle.
MBA Juvenile and Child Welfare Chair Michael F. Kilkelly urged
the delegation to support proposed legislation that would alter the
current Massachusetts law that determines competency equally in
adults and juveniles. Kilkelly and the Juvenile Section propose
that a separate set of criteria should be applied to children under
17. Following HOD's approving vote, Kilkelly and his council will
discuss the legislation with the MBA's other sections for further
Next up, Isabel Raskin, on behalf of the Access to Justice
Section Council, presented a resolution to encourage pro bono and
financial support of the legal aid system. Raskin cited the reality
of less than two hundred legal aid attorneys to serve the
commonwealth's 750,000 indigent citizens. Delegates voted to
support such a measure.
Finally, a past chair of the Judicial Administration Section
Kathy Jo Cook and Northeastern University professor Janet Randall
provided the delegation with an update on the MBA's nearly
five-year project on plain English jury Instructions. Cook and
Randall described the committee's recent expansion to include
citizens and linguistic experts, like Randall. Regarding next
steps, the committee will continue to work with the judiciary on
getting access to jurors for input and it will seek funding for its
pilot project phase.
The House of Delegates will convene again on Thursday, Nov. 15
at 4 p.m. at the MBA's Boston offices.