The Massachusetts Bar Association's House of Delegates (HOD)
held its latest meeting in Marlborough on March 26, at the
Courtyard Boston Marlborough hotel, where members welcomed
Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety
and Security Daniel Bennett as guest speaker.
Bennett, appointed in January by Gov. Charlie Baker, addressed the
issue of attorney searches at state correctional facilities in
Massachusetts, following a Boston Globe story that
detailed invasive searches of female attorneys during client visits
at MCI-Norfolk. While Bennett explained the need to balance the
safety of the workers and inmates with the rights of those
entering, he said clearly that the procedures at Norfolk were
"unacceptable" and improper searches "never should happen."
Bennett, who met previously with MBA President-elect Robert W.
Harnais and MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer
Martin W. Healy after the Globe report first surfaced,
responded to questions from HOD members, several of whom described
inconsistent practices from prison to prison. Bennett said one of
his goals was to make the Department of Corrections more
consistent, and he pledged to meet with anyone who wanted to
discuss this issue further.
Led by Harnais, the HOD also heard regular updates from MBA
leaders, including Treasurer Jeffrey N. Catalano, who announced
that the Scholarship Committee had chosen the first recipient of
the MBA's Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship after receiving
applications from every law school in the state. The MBA will
present the scholarship to the winner on May 7 at the MBA's Annual
In addition to the officers' reports, Healy spoke about the
success of the recent MBA-District Court Bench-Bar Meetings in
Salem and Brockton, and announced the next two would be held on
April 17 in Barnstable and May 13 in Worcester. In his legislative
update, Healy talked about the court's fiscal year 2016 budget,
calling it a "fluid situation."He also gave an update on the Joint
Bar Committee, which the MBA administers, saying that it is
"an exciting time for the bar in terms of appointments."
Among the new business items, the HOD voted to support, in
principle, legislation that would increase compensation amounts
related to scarring and disfigurement in workers' compensation
cases. The HOD also approved the nominees for the 2015 Access to
Justice Awards. HOD members also heard a proposal from Hampden
County Bar Association President Christina M. Turgeon, who asked
the MBA to support a return to a regionally based Judicial
Nominating Commission. After discussion and several questions, the
issue was referred to the MBA's Executive Management Board.
The next HOD meeting is scheduled for May 28 at the MBA's Boston