Chief Justice Mulligan presents state of the Trial Court to House of Delegates

Issue December 2007 By Jennifer Rosinski

House of Delegates meeting of the 2007-08 association year at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston Nov. 1, the night of the Gala Dinner.

Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan started the event at 2 p.m. with a state of the Trial Court address and discussion of sentencing reform, an issue MBA President David W. White Jr. has marked as one of his key initiatives. Mulligan was one of 10 panelists at the MBA Sentencing Symposium held at the Statehouse Oct. 23.

Mulligan focused on the newly opened courthouses and others in various stages of development. Plymouth and Worcester saw the opening of new courthouses earlier this fall. New buildings are being planned for Fall River, Taunton and Salem.

“I think the courthouses we’ve recently opened are beautiful,” said Mulligan, who emphasized both buildings were designed to let in a lot of natural light. “We are building courthouses, which based on our history, will be used for 100 years or more. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”

On sentencing, Mulligan applauded White’s efforts and gave a brief overview of the status of prisons and jails — both of which are overpopulated. Mulligan said the Department of Corrections population is 143 percent higher than its intended capacity.

“We cannot build our way out of this,” said Mulligan, who explained he is in favor of discretionary parole and more treatment programs. “We have a historic opportunity for comprehensive reform.”

MBA General Counsel Martin W. Healey continued with the sentencing discussion during his report. He said now is the first time in 16 years an actual discussion about sentencing reform has taken place in the State- house. “There’s a buzz in the air,” he said. “The stars are aligned.”

White testified in favor of sentencing reform at a hearing before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary Nov. 13 (see story on p. 1). He testified before the same committee in favor of Criminal Offender Record Information reform in September.

Healy also explained the MBA has requested meetings throughout the state with court officials to discuss the results of the firm and fair trial report. Town hall-style breakfasts will be scheduled next year.

A warm thank you was given to the HOD from MBA Executive Director Marilyn J. Wellington for their efforts in selling out the Gala Dinner’s 750 tables, the highest number of tables sold in MBA history.
MBA Vice President Denise Squillante presented the report for Treasurer Valerie A. Yarashus, who could not attend the meeting. Squillante said more than $2,000 has been raised so far for the Diversity Scholarship program. She also shared than an audit shows the MBA is in good financial standing with a healthy budget.

In other business, the HOD:
• Voted to support an American Bar Association resolution that allows lawyers to offer temporary pro bono services in an area outside their jurisdiction following major disasters;
• Received word from the Family Law Section that the MBA will be the first organization to host a CLE discussing case law focusing on how businesses are broken up during a divorce;
• Learned the Judicial Administration Section is con

tinuing to work on the Rules of Evidence;
• Learned the Judicial Preferences Guide is in its final stages;
• Received a report on Guantanamo cases from Kevin Powers of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section Council;
• Heard an informational report from the Young Lawyers Division; and
• Approved the minutes from the September meeting.