HOD meets in Springfield, touts passage of criminal justice reform bills

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017
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Photo Credit: Mike Vigneux
The Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegates held its November 2017 meeting in Springfield.

In what is becoming an annual fall tradition, the Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegates held its November meeting in Springfield at the TD Bank Conference Center.

Highlighting the meeting was the announcement by MBA Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy of a wide-sweeping criminal justice reform bill passed by the House of Representatives on November 14. The House bill follows a Senate version of the bill, which was passed in October. 

The House bill repeals mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug-related crimes, eliminates fines for those that are unable to afford them, provides for bail reform measures, allows the sealing of certain criminal records and increases the larceny threshold.

“It’s probably, at least in recent history since I started back in 1989, the only time that every branch of government has agreed to do a reform in criminal justice,” said Healy. “This is an unprecedented moment.”

Healy publicly acknowledged the vital work of MBA members Lee Gartenberg and Peter Ellikan in the successful passage of both criminal justice bills. A six-member conference committee appointed by both the House and Senate will now begin discussion to reach a compromise measure.

MBA President Christopher P. Sullivan began the meeting by welcoming members and thanking them for making the trip to western Massachusetts. In his president’s report, Sullivan praised the launch of the MBA’s new website, which went live in October.

“It’s clean. It’s modern. It’s fast. We did it the right way,” remarked Sullivan.

He also announced the development of a statewide training program by the MBA and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute to be held in January, which will address best practices concerning the recent statewide expansion of the Housing Court. 

In addition, Sullivan noted the formation of an ad hoc MBA committee, which will be tasked with addressing diversity within the Massachusetts judiciary. 

To conclude the meeting, Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) President Travaun Bailey provided an update on the association’s recent activities in western Massachusetts.  

Immediately following the meeting, MBA members had the opportunity to attend a “Toast to the Season” reception sponsored by the Hampden County Bar Association at the Springfield Sheraton.