Massachusetts Bar Association President David W. White Jr. offered high praise to Rep. Michael A. Costello, D-Newburyport, who was presented with this year’s Legis- lator of the Year Award.
“Rep. Costello is proud to be a lawyer, and prouder still to serve his constituents,” White said in outlining the numerous issues of mutual concern to Costello and the MBA.
“He has had an unfailing commitment to the needs of the judiciary and a keen in- terest in the concerns of practicing lawyers,” White said. “In particular, Rep. Costello has vigorously fought for ade- quate funding for our court system. He has also been active in the recent fight to attain rate increases for bar advocates, public defenders and district attorneys, and he has joined with us in opposing reinstatement of capital punishment.”
White described how Costello has been a leader in the fight for reforming manda- tory minimum sentencing, post-incarcera-tion supervision, Criminal Offender Re- cord Information laws and prison inmate training programs — issues that have been a priority of White’s 2007-08 term.
“Perhaps the most vital role Rep. Costello plays in the Legislature is that of defender of the Constitution. He is often the lone voice of reason when the Legis- lature is discussing bills that, while perhaps well-intentioned, have the poten- tial to diminish our constitutional rights,” White said.
He also noted that Costello’s “dedication to public service is in the highest tradition of the legal profession.”
Costello said he was proud to be both a lawyer and a legislator: “It is an unbelievable honor for me.” In turn, he thanked the MBA for its support on legislative issues.
“Whenever we need cover on tough issues, we get it from the MBA,” he said, noting that White’s emphasis on achieving sentencing reform during the next year was on target.
Costello said that although there will be unfounded criticism in the press that sentencing reform advocates are soft on crime, “We think we’re getting smart on crime, and we need your help.”
Costello credited his mother, who was in the audience, with helping instill a desire to provide public service beyond the ordinary lip service.
“My entire career has been about — and I hope, will continue to be about — making people’s lives better,” he said.