MassBar Beat episodes examine Homeless Court, bias

Issue March/April 2017

The latest episodes of the MassBar Beat - the official podcast of the Massachusetts Bar Association - are now available.

In "Homeless Court: A Second Chance at Hope," the MassBar Beat looks at the inspiring work of Homeless Court, a specialty court in Massachusetts that gives homeless individuals with minor infractions a chance to clear their records and get a new start.

MBA Young Lawyers Division leaders Tori Santoro (chair) and Samuel Segal (chair-elect) had an opportunity to visit this "court of second chances" at the Pine Street Inn shelter in Boston. In this episode, hear observations from their visit, along with interviews and stories of hope from Boston Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Coffey; the Pine Street Inn's Elizabeth Condron, who coordinates Homeless Court; two Homeless Court participants, who were interviewed after their hearings; and MBA President Jeffrey Catalano.

In another episode, "'Defamation' Courtroom Drama Encourages Dialogue about Bias," the MassBar Beat looks at "Defamation" the play, a touring courtroom drama written by Todd Logan, which has been performed hundreds of times around the United States since its debut in 2010.

At its core, the play is about a fictional civil lawsuit over a claim of defamation. But the courtroom is really just the setting for what turns out to be a thought-provoking, interactive program about diversity that forces the audience to confront and talk about stereotyping and perceptions of bias in the play and in our legal system.

Last fall, the Massachusetts Bar Association was proud to sponsor the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association's annual presentation of Defamation the play to an audience of Boston-area high school students. Many of the issues addressed in the play are similar to the issues addressed in the MBA's recently launched CLE series on identifying and eliminating implicit bias in the courtroom. Sponsoring the MBLA's presentation of Defamation the play offered a unique opportunity to get students talking about bias and diversity, while also demystifying the legal system for them at the same time.

In the this episode, hear from some of the high school students in the audience, along with the MBLA's Stesha Emmanuel and MBA President Catalano, as they discuss the important issues and questions about bias raised in the play.

Listen to the MassBar Beat for free on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Stitcher and other popular platforms. Better yet, subscribe so you don't miss a "Beat"!

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