Design and Construction Law Group, legislative efforts highlight April HOD meeting

Thursday, April 12, 2018
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Photo Credit: Cameron Woodcock
MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney addresses the House of Delegates on April 9.

The April 9 meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s House of Delegates served to announce the formation of a Design and Construction Law Group, and to highlight the MBA’s latest efforts to ensure fairness in the legal and criminal justice systems.

MBA President-elect Christopher A. Kenney, introduced by current President Christopher P. Sullivan, touted the Design and Construction Law Group as further proof of the MBA’s commitment to engaging new constituencies, following the recent and successful example of the Complex Commercial Litigation Section. Kenney then welcomed Paul M. Lane of Lane McNamara LLP, the creative force behind this long-planned committee, which will fall under the guidance of the Real Estate Section.

Lane said the DCLG combines the varied expertise and perspectives of lawyers in these two practicing areas, with its yearly program schedule headlined by a slate of on-site legal forums meant to recognize major feats in construction. One such event will take place this fall to coincide with the completion of the MGM Springfield casino project, featuring a panel discussion with MGM’s general counsel, construction specialists and development professionals, Lane said.

MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy prefaced his HOD report by announcing that the MBA’s April 24 Annual Dinner has officially sold out, drawing a round of applause from those in attendance. 

Healy went on to note that the MBA recently signed an amicus brief in United States v. Brian Augustine Joyce, urging the presiding judge to reject an attempt by prosecutors to disqualify the former state senator’s defense attorney. In taking this firm stance, the MBA continues its longstanding tradition of protecting the Sixth Amendment rights of criminal defendants, after opposing similar action by then-U.S. Attorney Bill Weld in the 1980s.

“We are sending a strong message that the bar will not tolerate these types of actions,” Healy said.

Healy also commended the House and Senate for their compromise on criminal justice reform, with sweeping legislation passing both chambers last week and now awaiting the governor’s signature. Prior to outlining MBA-supported provisions in the bill, Healy praised four Criminal Justice Section Council members for their countless hours of lobbying work and overall devotion to the cause: chair Georgia K. Critsley, vice chair Pauline Quirion, Lee J. Gartenberg and Peter T. Elikann.    

Lon Povich, chief legal counsel for Gov. Charles D. Baker, focused his remarks on the Governor’s Council’s fulfillment of a promise to “diversify the bench.” Of 103 justices confirmed over Baker’s three years as governor, 45 percent are female and 20 percent qualify as diverse, Povich said. According to Povich, the Governor’s Council has adopted the tagline “great candidates make great judges,” a sentiment later echoed by Healy.

The HOD also took action on two proposals, submitted respectively by the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section Council and the Juvenile and Child Welfare Section Council, ultimately voting to:

• Endorse legislation that would provide identification to homeless youth and families, and to actively lobby for passage of the House and Senate bills. (An amendment was also passed to include undocumented homeless people in the legislation.)   
• Endorse various provisions in the pending criminal justice reform legislation regarding juveniles. Notably, the provisions would decriminalize school-based offenses along with consensual sexual activity between similarly aged minors, and also exclude children under 12 from delinquency proceedings, among other changes.