Issue December 2015

December 2015

The Widow Wave engages both as maritime tragedy and courtroom drama

The Widow Wave is so much more than an old "war story" by an attorney about one of his trials. It is a captivating tale about the loss of a private boat with a captain and his four passengers outside San Francisco Bay; it is about the preparation and trial of the ensuing wrongful death lawsuit; it is about the emotional highs and lows experienced by an attorney during the course of litigation. The author, Jay Jacobs, a maritime defense attorney, has given us a courtroom drama which is both an edge-of-your-seat trial seminar and also a reminder of the emotional and moral responsibilities of a trial attorney.

Following Hamilton’s pro bono example

For someone who died more than two centuries ago, Alexander Hamilton is in the news quite a bit lately. Some of his newfound notoriety stems from the blockbuster Broadway musical "Hamilton," a biographical piece that is currently doing better box office than perennial pleasers like "Wicked" and "The Book of Mormon." Additionally, there is a movement to remove Hamilton's image from the $10 bill and replace it with that of a woman. As we observed National Pro Bono Week from Oct. 25-31, there's one more reason to contemplate Hamilton's legacy.

The impact of online court records on vulnerable populations

In June 2015, the Trial Court Public Access to Court Records Committee held a public hearing on whether trial court divisions should put court records online for access by the general public outside the courthouse. At present, no criminal records and no Probate and Family Court records (except administration of estate cases) are available online to the general public. Online court record access would be convenient to people who have Internet access, but many lawyers have concerns about the negative effects of such access. Former Massachusetts Bar Association President Denise Squillante, MBA Criminal Justice Section Vice Chair Peter Elikann, MBA Family Law Section Vice Chair Lloyd Godson, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and many attorneys who represent indigent clients in criminal, CORI sealing, family law, housing and other matters testified at the hearing or wrote letters to the committee about the hazards of online access.