Issue January 2012

Media's portrayal of judges falls short

I have spent much of my professional life dealing with the adverse consequences of drinking and driving. When the crashworthiness doctrine took hold across the nation after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit issued its decision in Larsen v. General Motors1 in 1968, individuals involved in high kinetic energy collisions began filing lawsuits against motor vehicle manufacturers in significant numbers. Since I represent motor vehicle manufacturers, I defended many, many lawsuits where the injured persons were occupants of vehicles operated recklessly by impaired drivers. Drunk drivers can do great damage to themselves and to others.

Legislature moves to delay effective date of MUPC

On Thurs., Dec. 22, 2011, the House passed a bill extending the effective date of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) to March 31, 2012. At press time, the extension bill awaits action by the Senate. The MUPC was set to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2012.

Attorneys help low-income clients in Pro Bono Prescription program

Six months since its official launch, the Massachusetts Bar Association's Pro Bono Prescription program has attracted dozens of volunteers and begun the next phase of its mission: assigning cases to participating attorneys.

The program, a collaboration between the MBA and the Massachusetts Medical-Legal Partnership network, helps low-income residents across the state get help for their legal needs, many of which are impacting their health. A doctor in the emergency room can treat a child's respiratory troubles, for example, but a lawyer is instrumental in ensuring that the landlord removes the mold that triggered the illness.

Judge Agnes speaks on court funding, judges' salaries at Past Presidents Dinner

The MBA's past presidents and the current slate of officers gathered this year for the annual Past Presidents Dinner at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston on Nov. 17. As part of the speaking portion of the event, Appeals Court Associate Justice Peter W. Agnes Jr. addressed the group. Agnes' appointment to the Appeals Court was approved by the Governor's Council in September, following his 11 years of service as a Superior Court judge and nine years on the District Court bench.

To read an excerpt from Agnes' remarks, see Viewpoint on page 3. To read his entire speech, go to