News from the Courts

Issue December 2014

Cabell and Robertson selected as magistrate judges

The judges of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts have selected Donald L. Cabell and Katherine A. Robertson to be magistrate judges, subject to the required background investigation. Cabell will sit in Boston and Robertson in Springfield.

Cabell began his legal career as an associate in the firms Hale and Dorr and Peckham, Lobel, Casey, Prince and Tye in Boston. In 1995, Cabell was hired as an assistant U.S. attorney. During his time with the United States Attorney's Office, he has served in the major crimes unit and anti-terrorism and national security unit. For the past two years, Cabell served as the Justice Attaché in the Office of International Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Robertson brings a breadth of legal experience to the bench. She was formerly a partner at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP in Springfield where she had a primary focus on employment law and complex business disputes. In 2011, Robertson was hired as an assistant district attorney in the Appellate Division of the Hampden County District Attorney's Office. She graduated from Princeton University and summa cum laude from Western New England University School of Law.

Fabricant appointed chief justice of the Superior Court

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey announced the appointment of Judge Judith Fabricant as chief justice of the Superior Court for a five-year term in accordance with G.L. c.211B, §5. Fabricant was appointed to the Superior Court in 1996, and she has served as a regional administrative justice, as the administrative justice for the Business Litigation Session and as chair of the Education Committee since 2009. She succeeds Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse.

"As an intelligent and fair jurist, and proven judicial manager, Judge Judith Fabricant has the skill and temperament to lead one of the Trial Court's largest and busiest departments," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. "We look forward to collaborating with Judge Fabricant on issues of mutual interest to the bench and bar, including the implementation of voir dire."

Judge Fabricant sat in the Suffolk County Superior Court, prior to her chief appointment. She has served on the Commission on Judicial Conduct since 2010, and recently was named to the Supreme Judicial Court Committee on Judicial Voir Dire. She served on the Trial Court's Process Steering Committee, which developed the Trial Court Strategic Plan in 2013, and currently guides the Strategic Leadership Team, which oversees implementation of the plan. She received the Judicial Excellence Award from the Massachusetts Judges Conference in 2013.

Fabricant served as an assistant attorney general for Massachusetts from 1988 to 1996, where she was chief of the Government Bureau from 1992 to 1996. She also served as an assistant district attorney in Essex County from 1987 to 1988 and spent three years with the Boston firm Hill & Barlow. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and resides with her family in Brookline.

Amended report of SJC's Ad Hoc Committee on Bosch Litigation

Last winter, the Supreme Judicial Court's Bosch committee issued a report for comment. The committee received several comments and amended the report in response to the comments. The Supreme Judicial Court has adopted the amended report and accepted the committee's recommendations.

To access a copy of the amended report, click here.

Court announces intent to adopt many new Rules of Professional Conduct, schedules several proposed rules for argument

In July 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct published proposed revisions to the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct and invited public comment. Comments were initially due on Dec. 2, 2013, but the committee extended this date until March 2, 2014 after receiving numerous requests for additional time. The committee has carefully reviewed the 13 comments submitted, and has made certain revisions to its initial proposal. On May 14, 2014, the committee submitted the following to the justices:

  • Supplemental Report of the Standing Advisory Committee (this report supplements the report dated July 1, 2013).
  • Standing Advisory Committee's Proposed Revisions to Mass. Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.0 - 6.2, 7.1 - 7.5, 8.1 - 8.4. (This proposal includes minor changes to several rules that were not included in the original proposal. These minor changes generally include clarifications or updated cross-references).
  • The committee's proposed revised rules marked to show changes from the proposal dated July 1, 2013.
  • The committee's proposed revised rules marked to show changes from the current Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • The committee's proposed revised rules marked to show changes from the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • The comments received in response to the request for public comments.


At the end of October, the SJC issued a notice on the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, which outlines the actions that have been taken.

Probate and Family Court announce new requirements to Div. of Medical Assistance, Estate Recovery Unit, for informal and formal estate proceedings

As a result of recent legislative changes to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B, in an informal proceeding to probate an estate (with or without a will), a petitioner is now required to give written notice to the Division of Medical Assistance, Estate Recovery Unit (DMA), at least seven days prior to filing an informal petition (MPC 150) by sending a copy of the informal petition and death certificate to DMA by certified mail.

Coughlin named state bail administrator

Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey and Court Administrator Harry Spence have announced the appointment of court veteran Catherine M. Coughlin as the state bail administrator. Coughlin, who will report to the Executive Office of the Trial Court, assumes the role as Michael J. McEneaney retires after nearly 36 years in the position.

In her new role, Coughlin will oversee bail personnel statewide, acting as a liaison with the various court departments, state agencies and town and city police departments regarding bail issues. She will coordinate and develop education and training for the 230 active bail magistrates statewide.

Proposed Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey invites comments on the proposed Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Abuse under G.L. c. 123, § 35.

The new rules would clarify the procedures for handling civil commitments petitions under G.L. c. 123, § 35, set the standard of proof, and regulate the admission of evidence. The new rules are intended to introduce uniformity in the procedures applied to G.L. c. 123, § 35 petitions among the District Court, Boston Municipal Court and Juvenile Court Departments and geographically throughout the commonwealth.

The chief justice welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised and will request approval from the Supreme Judicial Court of finalized proposed rules after reviewing the comments submitted. Comments should be directed to Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, c/o General Counsel Joseph M. Ditkoff or Administrative Office of the District Court, Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, 24 New Chardon St., Boston 02114, on or before Jan. 31, 2015. Comments will be made available to the public upon request.