Issue June 2010

Our courts in crisis

Suffolk County Clerk-Magistrate Michael Donovan summed up the effects of the Trial Court budget cuts in his court when he told the MBA Crisis in Court Funding Task Force, "Collection cases are up, pro se [representation] is up, mortgage foreclosures and credit card defaults are all up. The only thing that's declined is the resources we need to serve the public."

In order to understand the day-to-day effects of the budget cuts over the last two years, the MBA assembled a "Crisis in Court Funding Task Force" chaired by Martin F. Kane II. I urge all of you to read this task force's detailed report, released in May and now available on the MBA Web site at www.massbar.org/mbareports.

From writing briefs to best sellers?

Interestingly, not all lawyers who are writing fiction and nonfiction books independent of their chosen profession are trying to become the next John Grisham or Scott Turow. Those who write fiction and true-crime novels are possessed by the basic human urge to tell a story. Others delve into scholarly or historical themes that have relevance to today's crucial issues, such as civil rights and the treatment of detainees.

The craft of problem-solving

Associate Justice Ralph D. Gants' first year on the Supreme Judicial Court hasn't left him much free time. He likens it to a different kind of footrace than his 11 years of service as a Superior Court judge. "The Superior Court is more of a fast jog with occasional sprints. This job is much more of a sprint-jog cycle," he says.

Gants and his six fellow justices, adhering to a 2010-11 schedule set up in advance, sprint to prepare for sitting week, which occurs at the beginning of every month, and again during the two- to three-week period in which they write their cases, and then again as they prepare edits of each other's cases before a midweek consultation. Lawyers Journal caught him in a recent jogging week.

Lt. Gov. Murray addresses HOD, Hon. Fein gets Toomey Award

The final House of Delegates meeting of the 2009-10 year featured an address by Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, the presentation of the Daniel F. Toomey Award to Judge Dina Fein and changes to the MBA bylaws. The meeting was held May 19 at the Dedham Hilton.

Also, it was the first time the president's gavel was passed from one woman to another, from President Valerie A. Yarashus to President-elect Denise Squillante.