HOD supports implicit bias video for jurors, approves ABA delegates

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
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The MBA's House of Delegates met via Zoom on Jan. 13.

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s House of Delegates (HOD) approved its slate of representatives at the American Bar Association (ABA) and voted to sign onto a letter urging the federal courts to show a video on implicit bias to prospective jurors at its January HOD meeting, which was held via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Before taking up new business, MBA President-elect Thomas M. Bond began the meeting by offering words of praise for new Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd, Associate Justice Dalila Wendlandt and Associate Justice Serge Georges Jr. Bond also asked everyone to save the date of March 10 for an upcoming bench-bar conference held in conjunction with the Flaschner Judicial Institute.

In her report, MBA President Denise I. Murphy congratulated MBA Vice President Grace V.B. Garcia and attorney Marianne C. LeBlanc, co-chairs of the MBA’s Lawyer Well-Being Committee, for their committee’s successful rollout of its Jump into January Wellness Challenge, which asks MBA members to take 30 minutes out of each day this month to put a priority on their physical wellness.

Looking ahead, Murphy announced two important programs coming up this spring, including a virtual awards program in early March to celebrate the winners of the 2020 Access to Justice Awards who were unable to be honored last year due to the cancellation of the Annual Dinner. Members were also asked to save the date of May 25 for this year’s Annual Dinner, which will also be conducted virtually.

Taking a moment to reflect on the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, Murphy observed how members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation — several of whom are lawyers — returned just hours after the chaos had cleared to finish certifying the electoral votes. In the spirit of their commitment, Murphy led HOD members in renewing aloud the attorney’s oath that all Massachusetts attorneys take when they are first sworn in.

MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy then gave his report, which included the welcome news that Governor Charlie Baker’s administration had agreed to move criminal justice lawyers up to Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination priority list following a joint letter submitted from MBA President Murphy and Committee for Public Counsel Services Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti. He said he was also pleased that the MBA was given a position on a number of different commissions under the recently passed police reform legislation. On the topic of legal aid, Healy encouraged members to participate in the upcoming Talk to the Hill, the virtual version of the annual Walk to the Hill that is being conducted this year on Jan. 27 at 11 a.m.

Turning to new business, the HOD voted to approve a Criminal Justice Section proposal, introduced by Criminal Justice Section Co-chair Charu Verma and Criminal Justice Section Council member Peter Elikann, that allows the MBA to co-sign a proposed letter from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL) to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts requesting that the court begin showing a video to all prospective jurors on implicit bias.

HOD members also voted to suspend the MBA’s House of Delegates notice provision to allow HOD members to take up and vote on the slate of MBA representatives for the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. MBA Past President Alice Richmond introduced the measure, noting with sadness the passing last month of Kevin Curtin, who had formerly served as an MBA rep at the ABA. HOD members ultimately approved the following candidates: Bill Hogan, Denzil McKenzie, Georgia Critsely and Saraa Basaria. Hogan, who had already served the maximum number of terms, received a waiver from HOD members to serve another term until a replacement can be named.

Earlier in the meeting, HOD members also voted to approve the minutes of the November House of Delegates meeting following a presentation from MBA Secretary Victoria Santoro Mair.