Issue February 2012

Billboard, YouTube campaign to raise court funding awareness

MBA President Campbell calls effort 'a clear indication of how dire the circumstances have gotten'

As Massachusetts begins its state budget process for fiscal 2013, the Massachusetts Bar Association has launched a high profile awareness campaign on the effects of underfunded courts. The statewide effort is geared toward the commonwealth's general public.

Imminent threat to the rule of law

Former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, reflecting on her early years as a citizen in South Africa, uses a metaphor to explain the importance of the rule of law. "When you are breathing oxygen, you don't notice it; when you cut off the supply, you will notice it very quickly."

Professor "Mo" Cunningham, the renowned scholar and chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston (and a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney), paraphrasing President Abraham Lincoln's comments at a time when the rule of law was crumbling, instructs us that "our political religion must respect the law" and our judicial system or "society will come crumbling down."

With dysfunctional courts, he warns, "we are going to reach that point." And, serving as the apostle of the obvious, Cunningham tells us that "there is a point where you just can't tighten your belt any longer, we're at it right now."

For most of us, the American judicial system has been one of the few constants throughout our lives. Courts and the judges who sit in them have been models of stability, equipoise and scholarship. When political leaders like Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus prohibited African-American children from entering Central High School in Little Rock or Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett and the trustees of the University of Mississippi blocked James Meredith from matriculating, our courts and judges righted those wrongs.

‘Who else is going to do it?’

Advocate Harvey Silverglate on keeping institutions honest

At the age of 69, Harvey Silverglate has realized he can no longer operate nonstop. Silverglate recently confided to his research assistant that he now needs five hours of sleep each night instead ?of four.

Needing little sleep seems to be a secret of some of the very successful. Other members of this exclusive club include President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But Silverglate, who admits that he works too much, doesn't credit his success to his sleep habits, but to his work ethic, which has taken Silverglate far.

A renowned attorney for more than 50 years, he is also a revered author and a champion for the civil rights of college students, a cause that led him to open a non-profit that focuses on the issue.

HOD discusses mandatory CLE, foreclosure mediation

A lively discussion on the practitioner's views of mandatory minimum CLE and debate over draft legislation requiring mandatory mediation prior to foreclosures were among the topics deliberated at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Jan. 19 House of Delegates meeting at UMass Medical School in Worcester.

MBA President Richard P. Campbell welcomed all to the medical school, which he described as "a really interesting institution." UMass Medical School Vice Chancellor James Leary provided remarks and introduced a video that revealed the campus' accomplishments.