May HOD meeting features timely resolutions, presentations

Thursday, May. 25, 2017
Article Picture
(Top): MBA President Jeffrey Catalano presides over his last HOD meeting of the year. (Bottom left): MBA Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship winner Shayla Mombeleur. (Bottom right): Catalano presents the MBA Public Service Award to UMass School of Law Dean Eric Mitnick.

The last House of Delegates (HOD) meeting of the 2016-17 membership year featured the adoption of several timely resolutions, plus an award to the state's first public law school and a presentation on courtroom recordings.

MBA President Jeffrey Catalano kicked off the May HOD meeting by recapping some of the highlights of the year, including the launch of the MBA's Leadership Academy, the start of the MassBar Beat podcast, and the adoption of the MBA's immigration resolution from January. HOD members gave Catalano a standing ovation in recognition of his leadership this year.

Following a court budget update and report from MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy, Catalano invited 2017 MBA Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship winner Shayla Mombeleur to share a few words about her experiences at the University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth. It was a fitting segue into the presentation of the MBA's Public Service Award to UMass School of Law Dean Eric Mitnick, in recognition of the school's demonstrated commitment on public service.

Representatives from digital recording company For the Record (FTR), which is providing digital court recording and content management solutions for the Massachusetts Trial Court, then gave a presentation about their service. HOD members got to hear a recording from a Housing Court session in Worcester taken earlier the same day.

HOD Business

The HOD adopted five criminal justice resolutions put forth by the Criminal Justice Working Group, a collaboration between the Civil Rights and Social Justice and Criminal Justice section councils. The resolutions addressed:

  • Fines, fees and bail: A series of recommendation to avoid incarceration, pretrial detention, or imposition of less favorable conditions on defendants in criminal cases solely due to their poverty or low income.
  • Conviction Integrity Units: A series of recommendations to promote establishment of conviction integrity programs in D.A.'s offices to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions of innocent persons.
  • Forensic drug lab reform: A series of a recommendations for reform of forensic laboratories relied upon by law enforcement and the courts in light of the recent drug lab scandals.
  • Enhanced data collection: A series of recommendations to enhance data collection to keep communities safe, prevent discrimination, foster trust in the criminal justice system, and help protect law enforcement from unfounded claims of racial or gender profiling.
  • Body worn police cameras: A series of recommendations to encourage law enforcement agencies and departments to use and be trained on use of body worn cameras.

HOD members also voted to:

  • Support, in principle, An Act to Reduce the Criminalization of Poverty. (S.777 and H.2359), introduced by the Criminal Justice Section Council;
  • Support, in principle, the Statement of Opinion and Practices and Core Opinion Principles, introduced by the Business Law Section;
  • Support, in principle, An Act to Protect the Civil Rights and Safety of all Massachusetts Residents (S.1305 and H.3268), introduced by the Civil Rights & Social Justice and Access to Justice section councils; and
  • Support a resolution proclaiming that the MBA celebrate Conflict Resolution Day (Oct. 19, 2017) and Conflict Resolution Week (Oct 16-20, 2017), introduced by the Dispute Resolution Section.

In addition, HOD members selected by vote three members to join the Executive Management Board for the 2017-18 year: Anthony Benedetti, Melissa Juárez and Damian Turco.