The recent case entitled Private Lending and Purchasing, Inc. v. First American Title Insurance Company,
54 Mass. App. Ct. 532 (2002), appearing in Lawyers Weekly on April 29, 2002, in which the Appeals Court held in part that; "Absent agreement to the contrary, First American had no duty to conduct a title search, provide a preliminary or final title report or explain the legal effect of liens or encumbrances from coverage," prompts this article. This case involved a "dragnet" clause.
Since 1992, Massachusetts has had a domestic violence record-keeping system for recording restraining orders and protective orders arising from domestic disputes. That many of these orders are issued ex parte and yet remain in the record-keeping system even though they are dismissed after hearing, has troubled members of the bar and the public.
Judicial independence, so crucial for securing human rights, cannot exist, and should not exist, apart from the richly textured weave of accountability that is the fabric of a people's government. But "judicial accountability" is a malleable concept.
In the constitution of the commonwealth in the section entitled "Part the First, A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," Article V clearly states, "All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them." With this as the backdrop, a citizen of the commonwealth has the right to ask that the judiciary be accountable to the people as indicated in Article V.
The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is a vigilant and courageous defender of an independent judiciary. He has stated that an independent judiciary is "one of the crown jewels of democracy."