Morrissey Sets Ambitious Agenda at First House of Delegates Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019
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Photo Credit: Jason Scally

MBA President John J. Morrissey speaks to House of Delegates members at the Sept. 18 meeting.

Massachusetts Bar Association President John J. Morrissey announced his ambitious agenda for the MBA, which included taking steps to improve attorney well-being, at the Sept. 18 House of Delegates (HOD) meeting in Boston, the first HOD meeting of the 2019-20 association year.

Following a round of introductions from the HOD members in attendance, Morrissey described his plans to tackle the issues identified in the July 2019 report of the Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. He noted that the MBA, as the statewide bar, is uniquely suited to address several factors described in the SJC steering committee’s report, including inclusion, civility and fellowship.

Morrissey said he plans to revive the MBA’s Civility and Professionalism Committee, and will also reach out to leaders of affiliated bar associations to work together toward common goals. For all MBA matters, Morrissey emphasized the importance of using data-driven decision-making to better understand what has worked and what hasn’t.

Turning to more immediate MBA business, Morrissey noted that Damian Turco’s election as MBA secretary this year created a vacancy on the MBA’s Executive Management Board. He nominated former EMB member Paul White, which HOD members voted unanimously to approve.

During his report, MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy congratulated Morrissey on his swearing-in ceremony the night before, and thanked MBA leaders and staff members for the successful launch of the MBA’s 2019-20 year. He also provided an update on the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which included the news that legal aid funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation received an increase of $3 million over the previous year.

Looking ahead, Healy announced that past MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano will chair the Joint Bar Committee this year. He also encouraged HOD members to attend the annual State of the Judiciary Address, which will be presented by the MBA at the John Adams Courthouse on Oct. 30. The annual event will feature remarks from SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, Court Administrator Jonathan S. Williams and Morrisey.

The HOD meeting also featured several reports from MBA-related programs and initiatives, including the MBA’s Amicus Committee. Amicus Committee Chair Thomas J. Carey described several upcoming cases of interest that his committee was looking into, and he encouraged section leaders to alert the Amicus Committee of notable cases that might be worth weighing in on.  

Richard Cole, who represents the MBA and co-chairs a statewide Post-Conviction Task Force, announced that the task force was working to finalize its report and recommendations by January 2020. The task force, which was created by the MBA in partnership with Attorney General’s Office, the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, aims to promote public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. Cole said he hoped to bring the task force’s report before the HOD in March 2020.

At the end of the meeting, HOD members voted to reappoint MBA Past Presidents Robert W. Harnais and Marsha V. Kazarosian, and Francis C. Morrissey, as delegates to the American Bar Association.

The next HOD meeting will be held in Springfield on Nov. 13.