Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jun. 19, 2008
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Second “Open Dialogue” forum attracts dozens of practitioners from across Essex County

MBA teams up with the Massachusetts Trial Court, Court Management Advisory Board and the Essex County Bar Association to bring forum to North Shore

On June 17, more than 125 judges, clerks, registers, attorneys and personnel from across the trial court departments gathered at the Fenton Judicial Center in Lawrence to discuss court practices. The event marked the second in a series of five Open Dialogue forums scheduled across the state, and participants addressed a range of issues.

The attendees participated in breakout groups according to court practice area. The District Court, Housing Court, Juvenile Court, Land Court, Probate and Family Court and Superior Court met separately with lawyers to engage in a dialogue on case management and practice in each of these court departments.

Attorney moderator and solo practitioner Martha Rush O’Mara, who co-led a breakout session about the Juvenile Court, was pleased with the event. Some topics that arose in her discussion included: adapting to time standards; minimizing “rolling trials;” frustration with attorneys who double book unnecessarily; the possibility of reinstituting night court sessions in the juvenile court; and concerns about the minimal number of female security guards available to search female clients.

“Based on the openness and collegiality of the venue, progress was made,” said O’Mara. “The overall tone was very positive. Everyone participated, and the judges were very straightforward and forthcoming.”

“I view this event as a success,” said MBA Secretary and attorney moderator of the Superior Court breakout session Robert L. Holloway Jr. of MacLean, Holloway, Doherty, Ardiff & Morse PC in Peabody.

Members of Holloway’s breakout group, like O’Mara’s, also discussed time standards and how they have influenced the quality of the court's work product. Most agreed that the time standards did not have a negative impact. Other topics included disproportionate trial time being devoted to medical malpractice cases in relation to other civil cases; the possibility of a business session in Suffolk County; concern about increased uniformity in the handling of expert disclosure issues in civil cases; and the use of interpreters in criminal cases.

“I hope these events are continued, because they offer an excellent opportunity for interaction between the courts and the bar on matters of common concern,” Holloway continued. “As an ancillary benefit, the informal interaction certainly serves to enhance relations between the courts and the bar.”

The next “Open Dialogue” forum will be held on Sept. 17, at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston.


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