CLE participants get inside look at the BMC

Issue July/August 2017 By Serena Dassatti

On June 14, the Massachusetts Bar Association held the inaugural CLE program "Demystifying the BMC: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Boston Municipal Court." This program was led by D. Christopher Dearborn of Suffolk University Law School, who serves as the clinical faculty of the Suffolk Defenders Program. Dearborn led a number of MBA members on a behind-the-scenes tour of BMC. Participants were invited to sit in the jury box while observing proceedings in different trial court rooms.

Lisa Dell'Anno, an MBA member, said: "[m]y favorite part of the program was observing the courtroom. It was great to see how all the lawyers interact with their clients and how the Judge runs the courtroom. We heard all types of cases in the arraignment session and I found that extremely helpful. I especially like to see how the DA and the probation department deal with the defense attorneys and their clients. As a new practicing attorney myself, I learned a great deal by just observing the session. I was also very impressed that the judge took time out of his busy session to personally greet us and talk to us about his courtroom procedures."

Attendees had the opportunity to interact with a judge and ask questions about their observations of the court proceedings. After watching arraignments and pretrial conferences, Dearborn then brought the participants through the different areas of the courthouse that attorneys would need to utilize when working on criminal cases.

The program was both thought-provoking and an informative illustration of the Boston Municipal Court. According to MBA member Gary Bloom: "Attorney Dearborn's program at the BMC was a wonderful opportunity for law students and newer attorneys to step into a courtroom and feel what it's like to be treated and perceived as an attorney. It was very empowering."

After spending the morning at BMC, the group enjoyed a stroll through Boston on a lovely summer day to the Massachusetts Bar Association on West Street. The group had lunch while discussing their observations from the morning at the courthouse. Dearborn led a lively discussion and answered participants' questions about the BMC, as well as general concerns about practicing criminal law in Massachusetts. The MBA hopes to offer this CLE program and similar programs in a variety of commonwealth courthouses in the future.

Serena Dassatti is a program attorney with the Massachusetts Bar Association.