HOD honors Ashe, discusses access to justice grant

Issue January/February 2017 By Mike Vigneux

The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) House of Delegates held its second meeting of the association year at the TD Bank Conference Center in Springfield on Nov. 17.

Highlighting the meeting was the presentation of the MBA's Public Service Award to Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, who is retiring after an admirable 42-year tenure. Elected to his post in 1974, Sheriff Ashe has become known a national and international innovator in the criminal justice field through his work on re-entry programs for inmates and reducing recidivism.

Also of note, Housing Court Justice Dina E. Fein provided an update on the state's receipt of a $100,000 grant from the Public Welfare Foundation to develop a statewide strategic action plan to improve access to justice initiatives across the commonwealth. Fein reported that Massachusetts was one of just seven states to receive funding of 25 that applied. The goal of the process will be to examine existing access to justice resources within the state and identify gaps in services. Only the seven states that received funding will be eligible for implementation grants which are expected to be awarded next fall.

President Jeffrey N. Catalano opened the meeting by acknowledging and thanking those who made the trip out to the western part of the state. In his president's report, he highlighted several successful MBA fall events that enjoyed record attendance. Catalano specifically commended a Veteran's Day community service project with The Mission Continues and the Middlesex County Bar Association, which involved re-constructing community garden beds in Lowell. His report also highlighted the launch of the MBA's new podcast, the MassBar Beat, which is now available through several online platforms.

Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy reported that the MBA will have a seat on a committee convened by the courts to discuss ongoing concerns and procedures pertaining to the posting of court records online. The most recent court ruling left it up to individual court departments to determine what gets posted. According to Healy, discussions are expected to continue on this topic for the next year or two. Healy wrapped up his remarks by promoting the Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid on Jan. 26 at the State House. He also presented Catalano with a book inscribed by Immediate Past President Robert W. Harnais which will now be passed on to the succeeding MBA president each year.

Bar association updates from the western part of the state were provided by Richard Dohoney, president, Berkshire County Bar Association; Kevin Maltby, president, Hampden County Bar Association; John Garber, president, Hampshire County Bar Association; and Lisa Kent, president-elect, Franklin County Bar Association.

The meeting concluded with section council reports from Julie Green of the Complex Commercial Litigation Section Council and Scott Heidorn of the Civil Litigation Section Council. After the meeting, attendees were invited to a reception at the nearby Springfield Sheraton sponsored by the Hampden County Bar Association.

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