House of Delegates: highlights from May 25 meeting

Issue July 2005

Committee on Professional Ethics
Ethics Opinion 2005-05 was approved for publication. Opinion 2005-05 states that it would be inappropriate for a lawyer for a long-time client to represent a son seeking to have a guardian appointed for the client when it seems likely that the lawyer will be opposing the client’s wishes and the lawyer would not be able to comply with the consent and reasonableness tests that would permit such representation. Moreover, the lawyer also ought not to represent the son if it seems likely that she will be a necessary witness in a guardianship proceeding.
Ethics Opinion 2005-06 was approved for publication. Opinion 2005-06 states that a lawyer may reveal the name of his client’s business partner to the police as a suspect in a crime if the information is confidential information of his client, only with the client’s consent after consultation. The lawyer may also reveal the information as not confidential information if the lawyer obtained the information by his own direct observation of relevant evidence.
Middlesex County Courthouse Committee
The committee’s report was accepted as amended. Key recommendations of the committee are:
1) The committee recommends that the Massachusetts Bar Association support the proposed resolution of the Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse Workers…seeking temporary relocation of the Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse building occupants before work is done on the scheduled elevator project or other asbestos abatements that are necessary in the building. The MBA thanks Chief Justice Robert Mulligan and DCAM Commissioner David B. Perini for reaching the decision announced on May 24, 2005.
2) The committee recommends that the parties enter into mediation with a professional mediator to resolve the outstanding disputes. If the parties fail to reach a resolution through mediation, and if the Massachusetts Bar Association general counsel determines the MBA has standing to do so, the committee recommends that the House of Delegates decide whether, in light of the findings of this committee, it is appropriate for the MBA to join in litigation brought by the party plaintiffs.
For more details, see the June 2005 issue of Lawyers Journal.
Judicial Administration Section
The HOD approved a resolution regarding the appointment by the SJC of an Advisory Committee to prepare a comprehensive Restatement of Massachusetts Evidence Law, to approve said Restatement and to instruct the Advisory Committee to prepare Proposed Uniform Rules of Evidence.
Treasurer’s Report
Jeffrey Loeb, MBA treasurer, presented the treasurer’s report stating that dues restructuring will go into effect this dues period and that the Budget and Finance Committee approved a five-year plan for technology spending and upgrading of the physical plant. He also stated that the budget for FY06 has been approved by the Budget and Finance Committee and would be going to the Executive Management Board in June.
Task Force on Lawyer Discipline
The HOD voted to accept the Task Force’s report. The Office of Bar Counsel had already implemented some of the recommendations prior to HOD approval. President Kathleen O’Donnell asked the county and affiliated bar HOD members to bring this report to their respective bar associations for adoption.
Judicial Evaluation Committee
The HOD members accepted the Judicial Evaluation Committee’s Black Letter Guidelines for the Evaluation of Judicial Performance.
Nominating Committee Report
Richard Van Nostrand, former MBA president and chair of the MBA Nominating Committee, presented the slate of at-large delegates for 2005-06 to the house. It was voted to accept the slate as is.
Same-Sex Marriage Task Force
Mark Mason, MBA vice president and chair of the Same-Sex Marriage Task Force, together with task force members Fern Frolin and Deborah Rudolf, presented the interim report of the Massachusetts Bar Association Same-Sex Marriage Task Force to the HOD members. Mason stated that the task force was not asking for a vote on specific recommendations. He pointed out that this is an ongoing project due to the volume of changes that will have to occur in state law and in federal law. HOD members voted to accept the interim report.
For more details, see the June 2005 issue of Lawyers Journal.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Anthony Benedetti presented House Bill 1772 regarding loan forgiveness legislation for lawyers who are employed full-time in public services within various offices that receive state or federal funding to provide civil legal assistance. The HOD voted to support the bill.
See related story, page 1.
Family Law Section
Pauline Quirion, chair of the Family Law Section Council, asked that the HOD members vote to oppose §§ 139 and 142 of House Bill 21 regarding changes in the service of process rules in child support cases filed by the Department of Revenue. Members voted to oppose the bill.
ABA Delegate Nominating Committee
Kay Hodge, past MBA president and Massachusetts ABA state delegate, presented a slate of nominees to represent the MBA as delegates to the ABA House of Delegates. HOD members voted to approve the slate, each for a two-year term ending in August 2007.