Issue November 2014

Gants unveils court initiatives at Bench-Bar Symposium

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants outlined a four-point agenda to improve the state's justice system and stressed the importance of cooperation in his first State of the Judiciary address on Oct. 16, at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Annual Bench-Bar Symposium.

"We in the judiciary increasingly are recognizing that our role is not only to do justice, but to solve problems," Gants said. "Once we recognize that every court is a problem-solving court, we see that the problems that come to us cannot effectively be solved without the funding and legislation that only the legislature can provide, without the drug and mental health treatment programs that only the executive branch can establish and administer, and without the legal advocacy that only the bar can offer."

A vote for the rule of law

Each Election Day reminds us of how fortunate we are to be citizens in a country where the right to vote is sacrosanct. It's also a good time to remember how privileged we are as lawyers to play a critical role every day with something just as integral to our democracy: the rule of law.

A 30-year path to freedom

Sept. 2, 2014, is a day that attorney Richard A. Johnston will never forget. While gripping the arm of his client, Henry Lee McCollum, in a rural North Carolina courtroom, Johnston listened as a judge read an order which overturned the conviction of McCollum and his half brother Leon Brown for the rape and murder of a child in 1983. McCollum, who had been sentenced to death, was released from prison the next day after serving 31 years for a crime he did not commit.

Clients' Security Board sees more awards, smaller amounts in FY 2014

On the surface, the Clients' Security Board Fiscal Year 2014 Report paints a vastly different picture than the year before. While 2014 saw a 65 percent increase in the number of awards given (114) over 2013 (69), the total dollar amount of all awards in 2014 ($1.3 million) was more than half of what the board had awarded the previous year.