Holloway convenes first HOD meeting of association year

Issue October 2012 By Tricia M. Oliver

MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. called to order the first House of Delegates meeting for the 2012-13 association year at the MBA offices in Boston.

As his first report of the year, Holloway shared with the group his priorities - membership, education and media/public relations. He also mentioned that he'd be focusing on outreach to Massachusetts' affiliated county bars and meeting with various civic groups across the state.

Holloway, fresh off of a meeting with SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland and Trial Court Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan, expressed commitment to further enhancing bench-bar communications. To that end, he mentioned the first in a series of informal receptions for the bench and bar to be held in Essex County in the coming months.

"We hope to move that into other counties," Holloway said.

He has also tapped attorney Christa Arcos, along with judges Stephen E. Neel (ret.) and Peter M. Lauriat to begin discussing the issues arising from the lack of law clerks in Superior Court.

Holloway encouraged all delegates to follow his lead and serve as "ambassadors for our profession." He also set the expectation for each delegate to recruit one new member over the next month.

Holloway was followed by MBA President-elect Douglas K. Sheff, who gave an overview of the three key committees formed to focus on the association's priorities. The Membership Committee is chaired by MBA Vice President Christopher P. Sullivan, the Education Committee is being co-chaired by MBA Treasurer Marsha V. Kazarosian and MBA Past President David W. White Jr., while the Media Committee is being led by Sheff.

MBA Vice President Robert W. Harnais followed with brief remarks concentrating on an initiative that ties into MBA's continued efforts to address the socioeconomic issues plaguing the state's so-called "Gateway Communities." Harnais explained that meetings with members of the federal bench and Chief of the U.S. Probation Department for Massachusetts Christopher Maloney have led to the MBA's involvement in a re-entry program for federal inmates.

Harnais handed off the microphone to Kazarosian who spoke more about the recharged MBA Education Committee, sharing that the group will be working with volunteer members and staff to present CLE offerings that are "current, more dynamic and cost-effective." As treasurer, Kazarosian reported that numbers for FY12 look to be slightly better than budget and membership renewals for this association year (FY13) are on budget.

Secretary Martha Rush O'Mara fielded a few edits to the minutes of the last delegates meeting in May, before the delegation approved them as corrected.

Officer reports were followed by an update from Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. Healy touched upon the crisis with the DPH drug lab and its far-reaching impact on the criminal justice system, describing it as "unprecedented" both in Massachusetts and nationally. Roughly 60,000 samples have been reported to have handled by rogue chemist in the Jamaica Plain-based lab. Healy explained that such discourse is believed to have affected more than 30,000 cases, some potentially ending in wrongful incarceration or deportation.
"The MBA has been collaborating with key government offices on this issue," said Healy, who ended his remarks on this topic by further characterizing the situation as a "colossal, political nightmare."

Healy described a busy summer for the MBA, including the work of the Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments. The group, comprised of representatives from both the MBA and the Boston Bar Association, reviewed the credentials of 13 judicial candidates over the summer season.

Following reports, the first order of business for the HOD to consider was related to House Bill No. 25 that amends certain articles of the Uniform Commercial Code. Francis C. Morrissey, a former Business Law chair for the MBA, presented to the group, explaining that the bill would further harmonize how the code is adhered to and provide necessary updates to the UCC. Delegates agreed and voted in favor of supporting the bill in principle.

MBA Juvenile and Child Welfare Chair Michael F. Kilkelly urged the delegation to support proposed legislation that would alter the current Massachusetts law that determines competency equally in adults and juveniles. Kilkelly and the Juvenile Section propose that a separate set of criteria should be applied to children under 17. Following HOD's approving vote, Kilkelly and his council will discuss the legislation with the MBA's other sections for further input.

Next up, Isabel Raskin, on behalf of the Access to Justice Section Council, presented a resolution to encourage pro bono and financial support of the legal aid system. Raskin cited the reality of less than two hundred legal aid attorneys to serve the commonwealth's 750,000 indigent citizens. Delegates voted to support such a measure.

Finally, a past chair of the Judicial Administration Section Kathy Jo Cook and Northeastern University professor Janet Randall provided the delegation with an update on the MBA's nearly five-year project on plain English jury Instructions. Cook and Randall described the committee's recent expansion to include citizens and linguistic experts, like Randall. Regarding next steps, the committee will continue to work with the judiciary on getting access to jurors for input and it will seek funding for its pilot project phase.

The House of Delegates will convene again on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. at the MBA's Boston offices.