UMass Amherst is stage for Nov. HOD meeting

Issue January 2012

Delegates support improved civility, fee for ad hoc vice cases; legislation setting different parole rules for state, HOC inmates

Next HOD Jan. 19
The next House of Delegates meeting will take place at UMass Medical School in Worcester on Thursday, Jan. 19, beginning at 1:30 p.m. UMMS Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations James B. Leary will provide some remarks at the beginning of the meeting.

UMMS is the commonwealth's first and only public academic health sciences center. It was founded in 1962 to provide affordable, high-quality medical education to state residents and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. The three UMMS graduate schools are the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing.

Consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the leading medical schools in the nation for primary care education, it is also a world-class research institute, receiving more than $250 million of funding in fiscal year 2010. UMMS professor Craig C. Mello, PhD, was recognized in 2006 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his collaboration on discoveries related to a cellular process that offers significant potential for understanding and, ultimately treating, human disease.

Keeping with MBA President Richard P. Campbell's goal to have delegate meetings at the University of Massachusetts' various campuses across the commonwealth, the Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegate gathered at UMass Amherst for its November meeting.

Following an introduction from Campbell, Dr. Robert C. Holub, chancellor of UMass Amherst, welcomed the group to the campus on Nov. 10. See his remarks on page 4.

As part of his president's report, Campbell provided updates on his three key initiatives - public awareness on underfunded courts; engagement in initiatives and analysis pertaining to the state's gateway cities; and the evaluation of the ongoing relevancy of law schools - as well as other important association updates.

Specifically, Campbell explained that work continues on a video series to highlight the negative impact of underfunded courts. The MBA series, when complete, will be showcased on later this calendar year and marketed in part by billboards across the state. In addition, Campbell informed the group that the MBA has reached out to MassINC, UMass Boston and UMass Dartmouth to discuss opportunities to collaborate on issues pertaining to Massachusetts' gateway cities. He also shared that Eric Parker and Radha Natarajan have convened a task force to carefully analyze the issues that have led to a troubled law economy for newly minted law school graduates.

He also told the MBA delegation that Christopher Kenney and Marsha Kazarosian were assigned to lead a task force on mandatory continuing legal education, following a lively discussion on the topic at the September HOD meeting. Campbell then pointed to the MBA's two high-profile fall events - the 2011 Bench Bar Symposium featuring Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland, and the 2011 Family Law Conference - mentioning that he was pleased with the success of both. "Social and educational programs are still of interest," he said.

Following the other officer reports, MBA Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy provided his report. Healy reported that ?a Supreme Judicial Court-appointed committee has issued a report in opposition to client-initiated mandatory fee arbitration in Massachusetts. The SJC has received the report and accepted the committee's recommendation that Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct be amended to require a written fee agreement before or within a reasonable amount of time after commencing representation.

Healy mentioned that the MBA was vociferously opposed to this mandatory fee arbitration and recognized the capable leadership of J. Gavin Reardon and MBA Past President in delivering the MBA's opposition.

Healy also reported that Gov. Deval Patrick had recently signed a $480 million supplemental appropriation budget, with $20 million being directed to the court system. As a result, Ireland withdrew the SJC's request for a moratorium on judicial appointments, explained Healy.

He also mentioned the habitual offender legislation that the Senate was expected to vote on that day. Among other measures, the bill would eliminate parole eligibility for those convicted of their third violent felony. Healy explained that the House was expected to debate the legislation during the following week. Since the Nov. 10 meeting, both versions of the bill have been sent to conference committee to reconcile the differences. As Healy explained, the MBA's continued advocacy on smart criminal justice reform has resulted in some positive changes.

Delegates' discussion and debate led to the following votes at the Nov. 10 meeting:

  • Approving a resolution regarding civility and reciprocal treatment for attorneys admitted pro hac vice, among New England states. The resolution sets the expectation of equal treatment from the bar and judiciary of all attorneys practicing within the New England states no matter what the state of licensure or location of practice is.
  • Endorsement of the proposal from the MBA's Access to Justice Section requesting that the SJC establish a pro hac vice admission fee for lawyers from other states who seek to appear in cases before Massachusetts' courts. Currently, Massachusetts is one of only nine states that do not impose this fee, according to Access to Justice Section Chair Charles E. Vander Linden.
  • Supporting in principle and filing legislation that would set distinct statutory criteria for parole consideration for prisoners serving county house of correction sentences versus those serving state prison sentences.