More than 50 years after the legal community first began to talk
about reforming the management of the state's Trial Court
Department, it has become a reality. It's a change that could never
have happened without the work of Speaker of the House Robert A.
DeLeo, who partnered with Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice
Roderick L. Ireland to draft legislation that will, this spring,
place a civilian in charge of the court's business functions.
"This was the first time in my history that a speaker and Supreme
Judicial Court chief justice were standing together," DeLeo said, a
hint of awe in his voice as he retold the story of their
partnership from his seat in a wing-back chair inside his
Statehouse office adorned with ornate wood paneling.
DeLeo admitted that the Legislature and the judiciary have a
history of not getting along. "Usually we're at each other's
throats," he said. Not this time. DeLeo, himself an attorney, said
he approached Ireland about court management: "How about you and I
work on a bill together?" The chief justice took him up on the
It is for that ability to join two groups often on opposing sides,
and a long history of working to advance MBA-supported legislation,
that DeLeo will be honored with the 2012 Legislator of the Year
Award at the MBA's May 31 Annual Dinner at the Westin Boston
Waterfront. This is DeLeo's second time receiving the honor; the
first came in 1998 for his support of guardianship legislation.
Massachusetts courts will lose the ability to both deliver
justice and ensure security within their walls if the Legislature
does not approve adequate funding for fiscal 2013. That was the
message delivered by court leaders and lawyers at a Court Advocacy
Day hosted by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar
Association at the Grand Staircase of the Statehouse on March
"Losing more than 17 percent of court personnel directly affects
our ability or deliver justice in ways that are all too familiar to
you and your colleagues," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice
Roderick L. Ireland said. "Inadequate funding has made access to
justice all the more harder."
On Feb. 21, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court issued its decision
in Juliano v. Simpson, a so-called "social host liability"
case involving an illegal underage drinking party that produced a
catastrophically brain-injured 16-year-old girl.1
That the drinking party was illegal was not open to dispute. The
lawyer for Simpson admitted at oral argument that his client could
have been charged with committing a crime for hosting a party at
her premises with full knowledge (and indeed frank approval) that
underage guests under her dominion and control were consuming
In his responses to the Court, Simpson's lawyer likewise admitted
that, if convicted, his client could have been imprisoned for up to
a year in jail and fined up to $2,000. So, in Juliano, the
SJC had the opportunity to correct a patently ridiculous anomaly in
the law, viz.; a person in control of a premise has a duty of care
under the criminal law to prevent underage drinking parties on her
watch, but she has no corresponding duty of care under the common
law to prevent injuries and deaths that so predictably flow from
Following the success of its debut forum in Dartmouth on Jan.
26, the Massachusetts Bar Association will host its second Gateway
Cities forum in Worcester on Monday, April 30, beginning at 5 p.m.
in the Jury Room at the Worcester Trial Court.
"Like with the first forum, the focus of the Worcester event will
be to identify ways in which attorneys can lend their expertise
with issues affecting Gateway City communities across
Massachusetts," said MBA President Richard P. Campbell, who set
Gateway Cities as a prioritized initiative.