March HOD meeting features Trial Court update

Issue May/June 2017

The March meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Association's House of Delegates (HOD) featured a guest address from Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey, a vote on a Probate Law Section Council motion and several reports on ongoing MBA activities.

MBA President Jeffrey Catalano began the meeting by recounting his recent discussions with court and legislative leaders, and shared some of his thoughts on the importance of Housing Court. He highlighted several upcoming section programs and the MBA's Annual Dinner on May 4, and also provided an update on the MBA's Leadership Academy and its April training session.

During his report, MBA Chief Legal Counsel and COO Martin Healy described the MBA's participation on a CORI-reform forum at the John Adams Courthouse, co-hosted with MassINC and the Federal Reserve Bank. Turning toward the state budget, Healy said the MBA was focused on advocating for adequate funding for the courts, and he encouraged HOD members to continue the outreach to their legislators for funding for legal services.

Healy then introduced Carey, who thanked the MBA for its continued support for the court and its budget, where she said funding is needed for the specialty courts and to make the court system more user friendly through technology upgrades. The Trial Court chief justice also announced the expansion of limited assistance representation to Superior Court and spoke about the upgraded court recording system.

Vice President John Morrissey then discussed the MBA's first program on eliminating bias, which focused on using voir dire to identify implicit bias in jurors. He said additional programs to address other areas of bias were expected to round out this CLE series.

During the Probate Law Section Council report by Peter Shapland and Colin Korzec, the HOD voted to approve in principle the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which addresses management of online assets.

Several other reports were given at the meeting, including:

Dispute Resolution Section Council Chair Brian Jerome talked about the DR Section's inaugural reception, its outreach programs to law schools and its first-ever Dispute Resolution Symposium conference scheduled for May 19.

Attorney Christina Miller reported on the MBA's Diversity Task Force and its Careers in Court program, which will help to introduce diverse community members and students in Boston to careers within the court system.

Criminal Justice Vice Chair Pauline Quirion and Civil Rights & Social Justice council member Barbara Chorbajian talked about the MBA's Criminal Justice Working Group, which is made up of members from both sections and focused on criminal justice-related topics, from fees and fines to problems at the state drug labs.

Civil Rights & Social Justice Chair Richard Cole stated that the Immigration Working Group is looking at issues, such as legal assistance for unaccompanied minors, ICE at courthouses, training for new immigration attorneys and funding for legal services.

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