Legislators, judges and attorneys gathered at the Massachusetts
Bar Association's sold out Annual Dinner on May 7 to celebrate a
milestone year for the legal community -- a year in which lawyers
earned the right to engage in jury voir dire in Superior
Court for the first time.
At the dinner, the MBA honored House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo
with its 2015 President's Award and Massachusetts Superior Court
Associate Justice Dennis J. Curran with the Chief Justice Edward F.
Hennessey Award, for their exceptional contributions to the
administration of justice in the commonwealth.
Keynote speaker Mark J. Geragos, principal of Geragos &
Geragos, APC, in Los Angeles, commended the MBA as a great legal
association and touted the efforts of its members to secure
attorney-directed voir dire this past year.
"There is no more important valued right -- at least in the
criminal justice system -- then the ability to do attorney-directed
voir dire," said Geragos. "It's my conclusion at this
point that all trials -- especially in the criminal law -- are won
and lost in jury selection. No matter what you think. No matter
what kind of an orator you think you are. No matter what kind of
rhetorical skills you think you have. You are never going to change
somebody's viewpoints … in a one-week, two-week or three-week trial
… it's just not going to happen. The die is cast when you tell the
judge 'we set the jury as present.'"
In addition, the MBA presented third-year New England Law |
Boston student Ying Wang with its first $10,000 Oliver Wendell
Holmes Jr. Scholarship and the 2015 Access to Justice Awards to six
attorneys and one law firm for their exemplary legal skills and
service to the community.
"This is what we talk about at the MBA," said MBA President
Marsha V. Kazarosian. "You advocate for human rights, you advocate
for consumers, the underrepresented, the people who need the
support, and that's what the theme [of this dinner] was. It was
Access to Justice Award winners included:
- Brian J. McLaughlin, who received the Pro Bono Public Award for
his work in family law and advocacy for those with
- Benjamin Evans, who was given the Defender Award for his
high-quality work as supervising attorney for the Committee for
Public Counsel in Fall River and his support for practical
experiences for law students.
- Elizabeth Toulan, who was honored with the Legal Services Award
for her work serving low-income and marginalized populations in
Boston, as well as her efficacy in bringing about earned sick time
benefits through a ballot question.
- Ropes & Gray LLP, which received The Pro Bono Award for Law
Firms for the firm's projects to reduce recidivism among young men
and to help local families at the Dorchester House Multi-Service
- Jonathan Miller, who was presented with the Prosecutor Award
for his work in the Attorney General's office challenging the
Defense of Marriage Act and acting quickly to restore a buffer zone
law outside abortion clinics following the Supreme Judicial Court's
strikedown of the law.
- Adriana Lafaille, who was honored with the Rising Star Award
for her work at the ACLU of Massachusetts to provide legal counsel
and support for immigration detainees.
The MBA thanks its 2015 Annual Dinner sponsors for helping to
make the event a success.