MBA launches task force to tackle jury selection issues

Issue Sept/Oct 2009

The Massachusetts Bar Association announces the formation of the Task Force on Peremptory Challenges to study the history of such challenges and the implications of their use in the courts. Peremptory challenges can be made by either side in a criminal or civil case to help choose a jury without stating a reason, except where an impermissible bias (such as racial or gender bias) may be inferred. The task force will issue a report of its findings next spring.

The MBA consulted key affiliated groups in the formation of the task force, including the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the Worcester County Bar Association.Task force members include:

Richard P. Campbell (chair) is an MBA vice president and the founder and chairman of Campbell, Campbell, Edwards & Conroy PC, which specializes in trial practice with offices in Boston and Philadelphia. He represents individuals and corporations in personal injury matters, commercial disputes, multi-district litigation, class actions, aviation disasters, toxic tort and products liability disputes. In addition, he organizes and leads his firm's pro bono project, educating parents, students and school administrators about civil and criminal social host liability laws. Campbell is a past chair of the American Bar Association's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section and was awarded the Andrew C. Hecker Memorial Award by the section in 2009.

The Hon. Peter W. Agnes Jr. is a justice with the Massachusetts Superior Court. Agnes was appointed to the Superior Court in 2000 following a nine-year judgeship with the Charlestown Division of the District Court. Prior to joining the bench, he served as chief of operations for Gov. Michael S. Dukakis (1989-91), assistant secretary of Public Safety (1986-89) and as an assistant district attorney from 1976 to 1986. He began his legal career as a law clerk to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire in 1975. Agnes served as chairman of the District Court Professional Development Group on Impaired Driving Cases and as chairman of the Supreme Judicial Court/Trial Court Committee on Dispute Resolution. Agnes is a past president of the Justinian Law Society and a member of the New England Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution. He is also active in the American, Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations.

Philip J. Callan Jr. practices at Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy in Springfield. Callan served as the state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers from 2001 to 2003. He is the primary outside counsel in Western Massachusetts for a number of major insurance companies and specializes in the defense of professional malpractice, product liability and personal injury suits and insurance coverage interpretation. He is a past president of the Hampden County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor at Western New England College School of Law.

Beverly J. Cannone began as a Committee for Public Counsel Services staff attorney in 1985. Since 2006, she has served as the attorney-in-charge for the CPCS Dedham office. In addition to being a frequent lecturer and faculty member at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education and CPCS training programs, Cannone is a member of the Harvard Law School Trail Advocacy Workshop teaching team and a panelist and committee member for the Norfolk County Bench Bar. She served on the MBA Criminal Justice Section Council and received the MBA Access to Justice Defender Award in 2002. Cannone was also the recipient of the 2008 CPCS Edward J. Duggan Award.

Edward V. Colbert III is a partner with Looney & Grossman LLP in Boston. He has extensive experience in civil and criminal litigation and his practice often involves business disputes and government enforcement actions. He represents individuals and businesses in contractual, employment, personal injury and professional liability cases. Colbert was an assistant attorney general for Massachusetts before joining Looney & Grossman. Since joining the firm, he has continued to serve as a special assistant attorney general for the commonwealth. Colbert is admitted to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and practices in both state and federal court.

Frank C. Corso is a principal at Sarrouf Corso LLP in Boston. A past chairman of the Journal of Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Corso is a member of the MBA's Civil Litigation Section and a member of the MBA's Tort Reform and Lawyers Public Service Responsibility committees. Corso is also a governor for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and participates in the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. The recipient of the Amos L. Taylor Award for excellence in scholarship, Corso served as an adjunct professor for New England School of Law.

Emily G. Coughlin is a founding partner of the firm of Coughlin Betke LLP (formerly Ryan, Coughlin & Betke LLP) and is president of the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association, having served on its board of directors and held various officer positions since 2002. She tries cases and handles appeals in all state and federal courts in Massachusetts. Her practice concentration includes more than 20 years of broad-ranging civil litigation experience representing businesses and insurers in construction-related litigation, premises litigation, products liability litigation and professional liability litigation, while establishing an extensive expertise in risk allocation and avoidance in construction matters. Coughlin is also active in the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Defense Research Institute and the American and Massachusetts Bar Associations.

Robert A. Curley Jr. is president of Curley & Curley PC in Boston. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. His practice involves the defense of product liability, catastrophic personal injury cases, general civil litigation and insurance coverage matters. In 2004, the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association recognized him as the Defense Attorney of the Year for his service to clients and to the bar. Curley has frequently participated as a faculty member in continuing legal education programs and authored several articles that have appeared in both regional and national publications.

Michael S. Hussey has been an attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Public Defender Division since 1985, and the attorney-in-charge of the Worcester office since 1994. The 2003 recipient of the MBA's Access to Justice Award, Hussey has been on the "Murder List" since 1992. In 2004, Hussey was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, of which he is currently a fellow. In addition, Hussey is the 2006 recipient of the Edward Duggan Award given by CPCS, and has been a frequent lecturer and faculty member at MCLE and CPCS training programs. Hussey was also a contributing author to MCLE's Trying Murder and Homicide Cases and is a longtime member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Marianne C. LeBlanc is a principal with Sugarman and Sugarman PC in Boston, where she concentrates in all aspects of serious personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on medical negligence and product liability. Committed to making a difference for both her clients and the community at large, LeBlanc has provided leadership to a wide variety of legal, civic and community organizations. LeBlanc currently serves as the chair-elect of the Women's Trial Lawyers Caucus of the American Association of Justice and serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Women's Bar Foundation and Women's Bar Association. A past president of the WBF and WBA of Massachusetts, LeBlanc chaired the MBA's Civil Litigation Section from 2001 to 2002. LeBlanc has also published numerous articles and presents frequently at MCLE and the MBA programs, among other venues. LeBlanc is a 2006 recipient of the AAJ's Wiedemann Wysocki Citation of Excellence.

Eric Neyman is a partner with McCarter and English in Boston. His experience encompasses civil, criminal and complex commercial litigation. The focus of his practice is on fraud, class action, securities and contract disputes. He also advises businesses and individuals on strategically addressing government investigations at the civil, criminal and administrative levels. Prior to joining McCarter and English, Neyman was deputy legal counsel to Governors A. Paul Cellucci and Jane M. Swift, and deputy general counsel to the Executive Office of Public Safety. Neyman also spent several years as a trial and appellate prosecutor at the Suffolk County and Berkshire County District Attorney's offices.

The Hon. David Ricciardone is an associate justice in the Worcester Division of the District Court. Prior to being appointed to the bench in 2004, he served as an assistant district attorney in Worcester County from 1986 to 1989 and was a sole practitioner from 1989 to 2004. Ricciardone is a past president of the Bar Advocates of Worcester County Inc. and serves on the Worcester County Bar Association's Committee for Professional Responsibility. ¢