Ethics opinions, Drug Court speaker round out Jan. HOD meeting

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
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Photo Credit: Jason Scally
Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges Jr. gave a presentation on the Dorchester Drug Court.

The Jan. 26 meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Association's House of Delegates (HOD) featured a historic vote on an immigration-related resolution, the approval of several new ethics advisory opinions and a presentation about the Dorchester Drug Court.

The immigration resolution, introduced by MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano and Civil Rights & Social Justice Chair Richard W. Cole, saw HOD members vote overwhelmingly to affirm the MBA's support for the due process rights and need for legal representation for documented and undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts. "It's important that we act now and show that the MBA is prepared right now to take a leadership position," said Catalano, before the vote. (See related story for more.)

Prior to the adoption of the immigration resolution, Harvard Law School Professor Andrew Kaufman, the chair of the MBA's Committee on Professional Ethics, received approval from HOD members to publish four ethics opinions. The newly published opinions answer questions about:

  • Engagement letters when lawyers change firms;
  • Representing multiple plaintiffs against the same defendant;
  • Releasing a file concerning the execution of the will of a deceased client to a proponent of the will when a will contest is pending; and
  • Rule 8.3's requirement to report misconduct to Bar Counsel's Office.

Another highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges Jr. on the Dorchester Drug Court. As the presiding judge of the session, Georges talked about how the Drug Court, one of four specialty courts in Massachusetts, has been successful helping to rehabilitate certain drug addicts with drug-related offenses, and how and why the session is different than regular BMC or District Court.

Several MBA leaders gave reports at the start of the meeting, including Catalano, who touted the newest MassBar Beat podcast on the Homeless Court and talked about recent collaborative efforts with affinity and county bar associations. President-elect Christopher P. Sullivan previewed an upcoming program on how to become a judge. And Vice President John J. Morrissey announced a March program about eliminating implicit bias through attorney-conducted voir dire. MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy also shared the news that attorney-conducted voir dire will be coming to the District Court.

Also at the meeting, the HOD approved the recommendation to elect five attorneys -- Richard P. Campbell, William Hogan III, Josephine McNeil, Francis Morrissey and Brigid Mitchell -- as MBA delegates to the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates. The meeting concluded with a presentation by Lisa C. Goodheart on the 2016 Report of the Court Management Advisory Board on the Management and Administration of the Massachusetts Trial Court.