Top: Civil Rights & Social Justice Section Chair Richard W. Cole addresses the HOD.
Second row (left): MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano asking HOD members to say, “I want in.”
Second row (middle): Hon. Mitchell Kaplan, guest speaker from the Business Litigation Session.
Second row (right): Criminal Justice Section Chair Georgia Critsley gives a report on her section
Third row: MBA Secretary Denise I. Murphy gives her first report to the HOD.
Bottom: HOD members gathered for the first meeting of the year.
Photos by Jason Scally.
MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano opened the first House of
Delegates (HOD) meeting of the 2016-17 year by urging HOD members
to be "as productive as you can" at the MBA -- and on issues
outside the MBA that affect the profession, the rule of law and
access to justice.
"We want to be involved everywhere it matters: legislation,
amicus briefs, community service projects … and task forces," he
said. "We need to get the word out about the amazing stuff the
Mass. Bar Association does. We want people saying 'I want in.' … If
we all have that mindset this year, we're going to accomplish a lot
of great stuff."
Catalano lauded the energy he has already seen from section
council chairs and vice chairs, and he made it clear that the MBA
can expect big things from its sections this year. "We know the
Mass. Bar can't solve the world's problems, but we need to step up
to the plate and we need to do our job," he said.
The Civil Rights & Social Justice Section Council, chaired
by civil rights attorney Richard W. Cole, will play a key part in
accomplishing this goal. Catalano noted that it includes
representatives from every organization in the civil rights arena
and from every minority bar association.
"The fact of the matter is everyone agreed instantly to join
this Civil Rights Section because it's an opportunity for people to
come together on a regular basis as a summit, if you will, and talk
about what's going on in the world today," he said.
In his report to the HOD, Cole said his section council will be
looking at a range of topical issues this year, including rule of
law concerns that have surfaced during the election campaign
season, criminal justice reform, police misconduct, medical care
for individuals in correctional facilities, fair housing and access
New Criminal Justice Section Council Chair Georgia K. Critsley's
report at the HOD meeting also signaled an ambitious agenda and a
focus on "outreach." She announced that her section will hold an
open meeting in November in Springfield, which will feature a panel
of judges giving practice tips for the criminal bar. And she also
mentioned the section's October 27 CLE, which will double as
CORI-training and a pro bono opportunity for lawyers.
Critsley said the Criminal Justice Section Council will look at
issues involving police body cameras, the opioid epidemic and
indigent defense in the coming months. And it is poised to play an
important role for the MBA once the National Center on State
Governments releases its report on Massachusetts' criminal justice
"We will have to be a vocal constituency to try to make the case
after we study the proposal and send it through our wonderful
Criminal Justice Section," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief
Operating Officer Martin W. Healy, earlier in the meeting.
During his own report to the HOD, Healy noted that while the
courts continued to operate with a tight budget, the slight
increase in civil legal aid funding this year was a "testament to
every organization in the room" that participates on Walk to the
Hill and other funding outreach efforts. Healy also commended the
Family Law Section Council for helping to defeat an unpopular
proposed child custody bill last year. "We will continue to fight
that bill this session to make changes or defeat it again," he
Former MBA President Alice Richmond, who is the American Bar
Association state delegate for Massachusetts, spoke to the HOD
members about the MBA resolution adopted by the ABA over the summer
condemning the arrests of lawyers and judges in Turkey. "We have
great reason to be proud of the Mass. Bar Association," Richmond
Continuing the tradition of guest speakers at HOD meetings,
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Kaplan helped kick off the meeting
with a report on the Business Litigation Session, where he is one
of the presiding judges. Noting that the BLS could also be named
the complex litigation session because of the range of cases it
hears, he encouraged those who routinely handle business cases
slated for the federal courts or the Delaware Court of Chancery to
consider using the equally qualified and more local BLS, when
The next HOD meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17, in