Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants outlined a
four-point agenda to improve the state's justice system and
stressed the importance of cooperation in his first State of the
Judiciary address on Oct. 16, at the Massachusetts Bar
Association's Annual Bench-Bar Symposium.
"We in the judiciary increasingly are recognizing that our role is
not only to do justice, but to solve problems," Gants said. "Once
we recognize that every court is a problem-solving court, we see
that the problems that come to us cannot effectively be solved
without the funding and legislation that only the legislature can
provide, without the drug and mental health treatment programs that
only the executive branch can establish and administer, and without
the legal advocacy that only the bar can offer."
Each Election Day reminds us of how fortunate we are to be
citizens in a country where the right to vote is sacrosanct. It's
also a good time to remember how privileged we are as lawyers to
play a critical role every day with something just as
integral to our democracy: the rule of law.
Sept. 2, 2014, is a day that attorney Richard A. Johnston will
never forget. While gripping the arm of his client, Henry Lee
McCollum, in a rural North Carolina courtroom, Johnston listened as
a judge read an order which overturned the conviction of McCollum
and his half brother Leon Brown for the rape and murder of a child
in 1983. McCollum, who had been sentenced to death, was released
from prison the next day after serving 31 years for a crime he did
On the surface, the Clients' Security Board Fiscal Year 2014
Report paints a vastly different picture than the year before.
While 2014 saw a 65 percent increase in the number of awards given
(114) over 2013 (69), the total dollar amount of all awards in 2014
($1.3 million) was more than half of what the board had awarded the