HOD Endorses Guide, Section Proposals at March Meeting

Thursday, March 25, 2021
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The MBA's House of Delegates met via Zoom on March 24.

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s House of Delegates (HOD) approved the release of a landmark guide on conviction integrity and endorsed several other resolutions related to rules of professional conduct, legislation regarding the Probate and Family Court, immigration, and clemency at its March meeting, which was conducted over Zoom on Wednesday, March 24. 

MBA President Denise I. Murphy began the meeting by reading aloud her statement issued earlier this week condemning the recent acts of violence in Georgia and Colorado. (See related story.) She also announced the upcoming MBA Annual Meeting, which will be held virtually on May 25, and feature a keynote address from Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd.

During his report, MBA President-Elect Thomas M. Bond recounted the March 10 webinar that offered insight into the Flaschner Judicial Institute, adding that he’s hoping to bring additional Flaschner-related programs to the MBA. He also urged everyone to attend the upcoming CLE on April 15, Representing and Respecting Transgender and Non-binary Clients and People in the Courts.

MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy gave a brief report on the budget, noting that the MBA has been advocating to raise the rates of pay for bar advocates in addition to calling for more funding for the courts and judiciary. He echoed President Murphy’s comments on the upcoming Annual Meeting and encouraged members to attend.

Turning to new business, the Civil Litigation Section Council’s report sought HOD approval for the submission of comments drafted by the section council on the proposed revisions to the Mass. Rules of Professional Conduct. HOD members approved the motion with amendments. 

The Family Law Section brought a motion for the MBA to oppose pending legislation at the state Senate (SD 2346) and House of Representatives (HD 3429), which would effectuate a transfer of authority over certain key Probate and Family Court personnel, such as judicial case managers and assistant judicial case managers, from the members of the judiciary with and for whom those case managers work, to the elected registers.  The HOD voted to approve the motion and oppose the legislation.

Following a report from the Amicus Committee, HOD members approved the submission of an amicus brief for a case before the Supreme Judicial Court, Patricia A. Fournier, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Emily Misiaszek vs. Secretary of Executive Office of Health and Human Services, SJC-13059.

During its report, the Criminal Justice Section Council introduced members of the MBA’s Clemency Task Force and requested adoption of the task force’s proposed resolutions on clemency. HOD members voted to approve the resolutions.

The Conviction Integrity Working Group, which was first convened by the MBA in 2018, presented its newly created guide offering practical guidance to state prosecutors on conviction integrity programs. (See related story.) HOD members approved the motion to release the guide.

The Immigration Working Group then presented its proposal urging the Executive Office for Immigration Review to take specific actions needed to promote the due process rights and meaningful access to justice for all individuals appearing before the Boston Immigration Court. HOD members voted to approve the proposal.