MBA holds first HOD meeting in new Springfield office

Issue December 2015 By Mike Vigneux

The Massachusetts Bar Association's House of Delegates (HOD) tackled a busy agenda at its Nov. 19 meeting - the first HOD meeting to be held at the MBA's newly relocated Springfield location at 1441 Main St. The building houses the MBA's Western Mass. office on the ninth floor.

Gathered in the building's TD Bank Conference Center, MBA President Robert W. Harnais opened the meeting by thanking those who traveled to Springfield and acknowledged the importance of a statewide bar association being visible in various locations throughout the commonwealth.

Substituting for Amicus Curiae Committee Chair Thomas J. Carey Jr., Peter T. Elikann, vice chair of the MBA's Criminal Justice Section Council, presented the Amicus Committee report, which asked the HOD to support the filing of an amicus letter and to join other briefs in support of the appellant in Commonwealth v. Wade. The appellant in that case seeks an order to conduct DNA testing for the first time following a felony murder conviction in 1997. The filing of an amicus letter by the MBA to uphold the integrity of the DNA statute under G. L. c. 278A passed unanimously.

The Family Law Section Council requested that the HOD support an amended version of S.834, a bill that focuses on child custody. Jennifer R. Clapp, chair of the MBA's Family Law Section, provided an overview of the bill and the proposed amendments. A decision on whether or not to support the amended bill was tabled until the January HOD meeting.

Among the officers' reports, MBA President-elect Jeffrey N. Catalano reported that Harnais has created an MBA committee on civility, which will be tasked with crafting civility guidelines that reinforce the notion that lawyers should treat each other with respect and dignity.

John J. Carroll Jr., chair of the Equal Justice Coalition (EJC), also provided an update on the Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, which will be held on Jan. 28 at the State House. The EJC is seeking $27 million in funding for civil legal aid in the fiscal year 2017 Massachusetts state budget -- an increase of $10 million from the current budget of $17 million.

Following the HOD meeting, many HOD members attended a reception hosted by the Hampden County Bar Association across the street at the Springfield Marriott.