Issue February 2015

Elevate justice, raise the pay

The Massachusetts Bar Association is the preeminent voice of the legal profession, and has never stopped speaking about the need to continue to fight for justice for all. This month with the advent of voir dire in the commonwealth our voice was heard yet again, speaking loudly in unison with our colleagues at the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and in the judiciary.

The MBA has never stopped speaking up about the need for fairness in our courts and I am so incredibly proud of what we accomplished. I also want to publicly recognize and congratulate MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy, who deservedly was just named a 2014 Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for his leading role in the unified efforts to make voir dire a reality in Massachusetts.

New session, new leadership

The New Year began with a flurry of activity on Beacon Hill. On Jan. 7, the Senate elected Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg (D-Amherst) as its new president, while the House of Representatives re-elected Rep. Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) as the speaker of the house. On Jan. 8, Charles D. Baker was sworn in as governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. By the legislative filing deadline on Jan. 16, a total of 5,333 bills had been filed for consideration during this session.

Judge Curran a steadfast advocate of attorney-directed voir dire

A new era for the Massachusetts legal system began this month when the highly anticipated voir dire law officially took effect on Feb. 2 in criminal and civil trials in the Superior Court. The law (Chapter 254 of the Acts of 2014), which passed last August, now permits attorney-directed voir dire during the jury empanelment process.

Hailed as a definitive legislative victory, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys advocated for the law's passage for more than 20 years. Thanks to the symbiotic collaboration of the bench and bar in the commonwealth, Massachusetts now joins the vast majority of states that have laws allowing for attorney-directed voir dire.