Monthly Archives: April 2015

Seeking Great Judges: An Inside Look at the New Judicial Nominating Commission

We were pleased to see some BBA leaders appointed to key roles when Governor Charlie Baker announced the make-up of his reconstituted Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).  In case you missed it, BBA President Emeritus Paul Dacier and former BBA Council Member Roberto Braceras were both named to top posts – Dacier as Chair and Braceras as Co-Vice Chair of this important group.

You may also recall that about one month ago we discussed some changes to the JNC by Governor Baker.  Executive Order #558, released in late January, changed the language used to rate candidates (from “highly qualified,” “qualified,” or “less qualified” to “well qualified,” “qualified,” or “not qualified”, in keeping with the language used by the Joint Bar Committee) and increased the threshold voting percentages for approval, with 50% (up from 40%) now required to advance to the “due diligence” stage, and 2/3 (up from 60%) now required for recommendation to the Governor.

But what exactly is the JNC, and why is it so important?  Most people are familiar with the Governor’s Council and their role as the final review of judicial candidates, but few know of the work that takes place before this step.

In briefest terms, the JNC is a 21-member statewide, non-political, non-compensated body that screens applications for judicial and clerk-magistrate positions.  All 21 members are appointed to one-year terms by the Governor, and serve at his pleasure, meaning they can be removed at any time without cause.

Qualifications to Serve

The executive order tasks the Governor with appointing Commissioners who “reflect diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, background, geography, and among Commissioners who also are members of the bar, various practice areas and sizes.”  Commissioners must have “demonstrable knowledge of the judicial system and experience in the needs and operation of the Massachusetts courts.”  Those who are members of the bar must have at least seven years of practice experience.  Those who are not must “be familiar with the attributes that best qualify a person for appointment” to the bench.

Amongst the 21 Commissioners, the Governor also appoints three leaders – the Chair and two Vice-Chairs – who preside at all meetings.  The executive order incorporates a variety of measures intended to ensure the fairness of their process, including prohibitions on making political contributions, and on any action that suggests a lack of impartiality.

How it Works

The JNC provides the first layer of review for judicial nominees.  It is formally tasked with “identify[ing] and invit[ing] application by persons qualified for judicial office.”  Thus Commissioners are constantly on the hunt for talented individuals from all parts of the state who reflect the full diversity of its citizens.

Commissioners conduct a blind initial review of the applications of all candidates meeting minimal baseline qualifications – years of service, residency, citizenship, etc.  After discussion, and with approval of at least 1/3 of the Commissioners casting a vote, with a quorum present, an applicant is invited for an interview.  Only after applicants have been granted or rejected for an interview are their names revealed to the Commissioners.

The Commissioners must then interview the approved candidates, potentially multiple times, until they make a decision on whether or not to proceed with due diligence inquiries.  Interviews last 20 minutes and are conducted by the entire JNC at a regularly scheduled meeting.  Moving beyond this step requires approval by at least ½ of the Commissioners casting a vote amongst a quorum.

Essentially “due diligence” requires a thorough researching of the candidate, their history and qualifications.  Commissioners seek comments from judges, attorneys, and others about the applicant, and do not limit their inquiries to listed references, frequently going “off-list” to seek out other individuals who know the applicants professionally and personally.  It is often a time-consuming and arduous process, requiring Commissioners to comb through extensive amounts of information and prepare written reports of their findings.

Finally, after completing due diligence, the Commissioners deliberate and discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of candidates, both in general terms, and specifically as they relate to the open judicial positions.  A two-thirds vote is required for the Commissioners to forward an applicant’s name to the Governor’s Office to be considered for nomination.  They typically provide between three and six names for each vacancy.

What Follows

After the JNC recommends an applicant for appointment to a judgeship, the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel then seeks the input of the Joint Bar Committee.  The JBC, formally established in 1961, is a 25 member committee chaired on an alternating basis by representatives of the BBA and the Massachusetts Bar Association.  It is comprised of a diverse body of practitioners from every county and a majority of specialty bar associations within the state.  Members of the committee are non-partisan and generally serve for three-year terms.  The JBC works with Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel in a confidential capacity to conduct its own independent review in order to provide recommendations as to whether a candidate is well qualified, qualified, not qualified, or there is insufficient information to evaluate the candidate.  The committee then communicates its vote the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel for the Governor’s consideration.  After this vetting process has been completed, the Governor is free to either nominate or decline any applicant, to seek further recommendations from the Commission, or to re-open the application process.  When he is satisfied with the candidates, the Governor then makes his or her nominations to the Governor’s Council.

In sum, we are proud of the judicial nomination, review, and appointment process in place in Massachusetts.  It assures judicial candidates are given a fair and thorough review.  We are also impressed with the care that goes into crafting each step of the process.  This year’s JNC is a great example as its 21 members are experienced and successful lawyers from across the Commonwealth, the legal profession, and demographic groups.  They are representative of the state and the profession, and therefore also of the type of bench we would like to see.

While there are not expected to be many judicial openings in the near future, it is important to take the long view on this thorough and deliberative process.  As a result, it will be tough to ascertain Governor Baker’s judicial appointment style over the next few months, or maybe even the next year, but we are confident that he will continue to espouse the high bar for diversity and excellence set by Governor Deval Patrick.

The JNC serves a crucial function in the recruitment and review of judicial applicants.  However, their recommendations can only be as good as the applicants they receive.  A great and diverse bench emerges only from a great and diverse candidate pool.  The Governor has done his part by creating a remarkably diverse JNC under all metrics from geography to demographics to practice field and size.  Now, if you’ve given any thought to pursuing a judgeship or know someone who would make a great judge, the next step is yours!  We have laid out the process here, but it all starts with the application.  To maintain the high standards set by judges in Massachusetts, we need the best candidates to continue to apply.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

Advocating on the Road, Learning at Home: BBA in D.C. and Chief Justice Gants at 16 Beacon

The past week or so has been busy for Government Relations.  You can read here all about the House Ways and Means Committee’s budget proposal, which was released last Wednesday and will be debated on the floor starting this Tuesday.  (Spoiler alert: You can help support amendments that have been filed to help fund civil legal aid and the judiciary.)

In addition, BBA leadership went to Washington, D.C., to take part in ABA Day last week, and SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants spoke to the BBA Council earlier this week – both of which you can read about here…

Each year in April, representatives from state and local bar associations, as well as ABA leaders, come to D.C. from across the country to take part in ABA Day – which is really a misnomer, as it involves three days of trainings, briefings, and, most importantly, lobbying of our respective Congressional delegations.

This year, the BBA was represented by President Julia Huston and President-Elect Lisa Arrowood, who met with nine of our 11 Senators and Representatives (or in a couple of cases, their staffers).  They were there to advocate for the ABA’s two main issues this year: increased federal funding for civil legal aid through the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), and federal legislation to get smarter on crime by reducing the impact of mandatory minimum sentences for federal offenses and diverting juveniles from the justice system.

We were quite fortunate in that we found near-universal support on both of these fronts from our legislators.  It would be easy – and comforting – to assume the Massachusetts delegation is typical in this regard, but we were disabused of any such notion at a pre-lobbying breakfast briefing, where participants learned that many Congressmen have actually voted to completely de-fund LSC.

This year, President Obama is proposing to increase LSC’s appropriation from $375M to $452M, but we were warned repeatedly that any increase will face a difficult battle in a Congress that is largely disinclined to approve spending hikes.  Many of our representatives lamented the current state of relations generally in Congress, where achieving any kind of consensus is challenging at best.

Nevertheless, sentencing reform – the other main ABA Day issue – holds out the prospect of genuine bipartisan agreement.  Whether it arises from a concern that our correctional system is too costly to sustain in straitened fiscal circumstances or from a belief that public safety would be better served by a different approach toward reducing recidivism and treating substance abuse, there is a growing recognition that we are incarcerating too many people for too long.  (With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of its incarcerated population.)  The possibility that a majority in Congress could coalesce around evidence-based reforms to re-think our sentencing practices was a bright spot in the discussions we had with elected officials.

On a related note, we were struck by how concerned members of Congress are about the opiate crisis in Massachusetts, as well as substance abuse and addiction generally.  Recent headlines on these issues have certainly not escaped their attention, and they are very focused on identifying practical solutions to help victims and families struggling with these problems.

Back at 16 Beacon, we heard from Chief Justice Gants, who discussed some of the things that have been keeping him busy (aside from hearing and deciding cases, of course): the budget (see above), revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, a “menu of options” for cost-effective civil litigation, the new voir dire law, changes in disciplinary rules for clerks … and sentencing reform on mandatory minimums, on which he’s taken quite a public stand.

Like the ABA, as well as the BBA, the Chief Justice opposes these sentences generally.  In speaking to the Council, he said they result in sentences that are longer than judges think appropriate.  By giving back to judges the ability to apply “hand crafted” sentences suitable for each defendant and each case, we would be freeing up money spent now on incarceration that could instead fund rehabilitative programs, what’s known as justice reinvestment — for example, programs like specialty courts and HOPE/MORR.  The latter, currently being tried as a pilot project, applies short but swift consequences to probation violations.

The Chief Justice has called on the Legislature to drop mandatory minimums in drug sentences, leading to a public debate on the issue with Suffolk DA Dan Conley, currently the President of the MA District Attorneys’ Association.  At Council, Chief Justice Gants distributed a chart he’d compiled that shows how prison and jail populations have exploded in Massachusetts since the 1980’s, resulting in incarceration rates that are several times higher than 50 years ago, even though violent-crime rates are roughly the same as then, and property crime has declined dramatically.

The Chief Justice has also ordered an internal Trial Court review of sentencing practices.  Each department with criminal jurisdiction currently has a group looking at best practices in sentencing, and he is expecting draft reports from them Thanksgiving, with an interim report coming in May or June.

These groups are exploring all aspects of sentencing, including:

  • The option of pre-trial diversion to connect defendants with treatment, services, and supervision, where appropriate, as an alternative to prosecution.
  • The relative value of sentencing defendants to time in a state prison versus a house of correction.
  • Use of probation – which research shows may become counter-productive if it extends too long. Furthermore, they are assessing which conditions work best – including carrots versus sticks, and the possibility of reducing a term of probation if no violations are incurred over a certain period of time.
  • Analysis of social-science findings on what works best to reduce recidivism.
  • Determining what is the best way to assess the risks and needs of each individual, without biases. For example, one standard factor in calculating a defendant’s risk is his or her criminal history.  Yet the same actions that land a black youth from a city in the criminal justice system might have lesser ramifications for a white, suburban youth.  So a risk/needs assessment that simply assigns a score for criminal history may indicate that the former poses a greater risk than the latter, based on identical behavior.

We will continue to follow the debate over mandatory minimums, and to support the Chief Justice in his advocacy.

Justice System FY16 Budget Update

This week the House Ways and Means Committee released its FY2016 budget proposal.  The $38 billion budget made targeted new investments in early education, substance abuse prevention, and behavioral health.  We were pleased to see some increases in judiciary line items, and applaud the House Ways and Means Committee for all their hard work, which was especially challenging this year as they faced a $1.8 billion shortfall.  Even so, we have some concerns about whether the judiciary received enough to allow it to continue to deliver on its promise of “justice with dignity and speed.”  The Trial Court, legal services, and state attorneys will all face challenges if the budget is adopted in this form.

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) (Line Item 0321-1600)

As you likely know, the BBA spent the last 24 months studying and gathering data on civil legal aid, and ultimately releasing one the most comprehensive reports in the nation on the issue, including analyses demonstrating concrete returns to the state on investments in this area.  For every $1 spent on legal aid in the area of eviction and foreclosure cases, the state can save $2.69.  For every $1 spent on legal aid in the area of domestic violence, there is a $2 return, with $1 going to the state and $1 to the federal government in medical care savings.  Finally, for every $1 spent on legal aid to provide federal benefits, the state will gain $5 in economic benefits to its citizens.  And this is only in the three practice areas we studied.

Overall, roughly 64% of people seeking legal aid, who qualify financially at 125% of the federal poverty level, are turned away due to lack of resources.  That doesn’t take into account those individuals who wait for hours on the phone with legal aid agencies and eventually give up because there simply is not enough staff to handle intakes, a number that may be as high as 50%.

Investing in Justice asks for $30 million from the Legislature in additional funding for legal services, spread out over three years.  That translates to $25 million in total funding this year, $35 million next, and $45 million in FY2018 funding.  We are confident that these funding levels would make a significant impact and significantly increase access to justice for those in need, while at the same time actually saving the state money.

Governor Charlie Baker’s budget proposal, which was released last month, essentially level-funded MLAC from last year, but the House Ways and Means budget gave it a $2 million increase.

Here is the breakdown:

FY2015 Budget

 

FY2016 Budget
Request$17,000,000$25,000,000
Governor’s Budget$14,000,000$14,731,500
House Ways & Means Budget$13,000,000$17,000,000
Final Budget Appropriation$15,000,000*

* before mid-year cut of 1.79%

Representative Balser is filing an amendment to increase the House appropriation by an additional $5 million, bringing total additional MLAC funding to $7 million and increasing the MLAC line item to $22 million.  We hope that you will contact your state Representative as soon as possible asking him or her to co-sponsor Rep. Balser’s amendment.

Trial Court

The Trial Court budget includes 15 different line items funding the judges, staffs, and operation of all of its departments.  The Trial Court requested a maintenance budget of $642.6 million.  This is the amount it would take to continue operations as normal.  It also provided the legislature with 16 budget modules, essentially enhancement initiatives and projects it could choose to fund in order to update and innovate the court system.  Some examples include funding to create more specialty courts, expand Housing Court statewide, and provide additional materials to self-represented litigants.

The Governor’s budget proposal was disappointingly low, prompting a swift response from the Courts explaining that such funding levels would result in the devastating elimination of 550 positions, roughly an 8.4% cut to a court staff which is already pushed to its limits.  Thankfully, the House Ways and Means budget provides significantly more funding – a little over $620 million – and the Trial Court will continue to work closely with the Legislature to sustain its current operations and avoid layoffs.

This is how the funding breaks down:

FY2015 Budget

 

FY2016 Budget
Request$615,000,000 + Modules$642,600,000 + Modules
Governor’s Budget$617,000,000$603,300,000
House Ways & Means Budget$609,000,000$620,533,116
Final Budget Appropriation$612,000,000*

* before mid-year cut of 1.79%

 

Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) (Line Items: 0320-0003, 0320-0010, 0321-0001, 0321-0100)

The state’s highest court, comprised of four line items, took one of the biggest relative hits in the budget, as its House Ways and Means allotment was nearly 5% below its maintenance request.  As a result, the SJC may also have to face employee layoffs unless it can secure additional funding.

FY2015 Budget

(FY15 Final: $8,183,990)

FY2016 Budget

(Request: $12,600,000)

Governor’s Budget$11,554,036$11,554,036
House Ways & Means Budget$11,685,314$12,020,560

 

Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) (Line Items: 0321-1500, 0321-1504, 0321-1510, 0321-1518)

CPCS is comprised of four line items that include its own attorneys as well as compensation for private counselors (bar advocates).  It was the subject of a recent MBA Task Force report, making a convincing case that public defenders, bar advocates, and assistant district attorneys, merit higher salaries, and a state commission unanimously agreed with that proposition [link to Issue Spot on this].  The Globe has also run a number of articles on the issue of underpaid attorneys in these positions (see here and here).

It is important to note when understanding CPCS’s line item that the annual budget has historically underfundedCPCS, the theory being that since CPCS cannot predict with exact certainty how many cases it will have to serve, it is provided with an initial appropriation that is supplemented as the fiscal year progresses and its expenses become clearer.  The Legislature and Governor have consistently honored and funded these requests.  Neither the Governor nor the House Ways and Means budget propose any changes to the current CPCS service delivery system.

Here is the CPCS budget breadkdown:

FY2015 Budget

(FY15 Final:)

FY2016 Budget

 

Governor’s Budget$187,337,340$186,701,051
House Ways & Means Budget$168,000,000$170,470,051
Final Budget Appropriation$168,000,000*

* before supplemental budget funding

In all, we are still at the beginning of a long budget process.  The next step will be amendments in the House and a floor debate before a House budget is finalized.  The process repeats in the Senate next month – Ways and Means budget, amendments, and debate.  Finally, a Conference Committee reviews the House and Senate budgets to pick a single amount for each line item.

The Governor then has 10 days to review the budget.  He can approve or veto the entire budget, veto or reduce specific line items, veto outside sections, or submit changes as an amendment for legislative consideration.  Finally the Legislature has the chance to override any Governor’s veto with a 2/3 vote in each branch.  We will do our best to keep you updated throughout the budget process.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

Legal Aid Advocacy and Awards

As we’ve said before, once you understand the workings and impact of legal aid, it’s easy to view the world through this lens.  With near daily news of Massachusetts individuals struggling with issues such as income inequality, evictions, and domestic violence, and the documented increase in families and individuals qualifying for legal aid from roughly 800,000 to one million over the last few years, the time is right for a change in how we view civil legal aid, and how we fund it.  Our Investing in Justice report continues to make that case, both in the news and at the State House.  We are pleased to share that in the last two weeks we met with:

  • Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Representative John Fernandes, House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary
  • Minority Leader Brad Jones
  • Representative Hank Naughton
  • Representative Sarah Peake
  • Representative David Linsky
  • Representative Joseph Wagner
  • Representative Aaron Michlewitz
  • Representative Tom Sannicandro
  • Representative Chris Markey
  • Representative Carole Fiola
  • Representative Edward Coppinger
  • Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier
  • Representative Alan Silvia
  • Representative David Muradian
  • Representative Betty Poirier
  • Karen Spilka, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee
  • Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler
  • Senator Cindy Creem
  • Senator Jamie Eldridge

We hope that each of these meetings is another step towards more funding for civil legal aid.  We are seeking a total increase of $30 million in funding over the next three years.  The additional $10 million needed this fiscal year would bring total MLAC funding to $25 million and make a huge difference for so many individuals with life-altering issues.  The next major step will be the release of the House Ways & Means Committee’s budget on April 15th.  House members will then have the opportunity to file amendments, followed by a debate on the House floor two weeks later, before a final vote.  The Senate follows a similar process next month.  (Click here for more on the budget process).

Legal aid is also playing a leading role in our 2015 Law Day Dinner.  We look forward to honoring three stalwarts of legal services – Barbara Mitchell, Al Wallis, and Jack Ward.

Mitchell, BarbaraBarbara Mitchell, Executive Director of Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) will be receiving the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award for her career in legal services.  In her eight years with CLSSACC, she has increased the size of that organization’s professional staff by 70%, even while legal services was experiencing precipitous declines in funding.

Before her current role with CLSACC, Mitchell spent 15 years as Managing Attorney of the Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) Family Law Unit.  While at GBLS, she dramatically expanded exemplary family law representation for low-income individuals, especially those with domestic violence cases, more than doubling the size of the Family Law Unit to 20 attorneys.  Her work as an advocate both in and outside the courtroom led to a number of positive reforms in domestic violence law in case law and legislation.

Wallis, Al W. - newAl Wallis will receive the Thurgood Marshall Award for his legal services work in the private sector as Executive Director of the Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest.  Wallis has served in this role since the Center’s creation in 2001, championing and coordinating the pro bono, charitable, community, and public interest activities of the firm.  He is also the Director of the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation Corporation, which is known for its work supporting organizations improving inner-city education.  He is a nationally recognized leader in public interest and corporate social responsibility issues both locally and nationally.

Wallis is also extremely active in the legal and social justice community.  He was elected Co-President of the National Association of Pro Bono Counsel and serves as the Co-Chair of the Boston Pro Bono Roundtable.  He has donated a great deal of time and expertise to various BBA Sections and leadership positions and is also a past president and long-time board member of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the BBA.

Ward, JackJack Ward will receive the President’s Award for his incredible 30-plus years of service at GBLS.  As Associate Director for Finance and Development until January of this year, he was responsible for overseeing all financial aspects of GBLS and its extensive fundraising efforts.  Ward remains involved in running the annual legal services development conference he helped found more than 25 years ago.  He is nationally recognized as a leader in legal services fundraising for his tireless and innovative work.

In case you’ve never been, Law Day Dinner is the largest annual bench-bar event in the Commonwealth, with over 1,300 judges, lawyers, and legislators from all practice areas and legal sectors.  Attorney General Maura Healey will provide this year’s keynote address, reflecting on the state of the legal community and the future of law.

We look forward to the opportunity to honor three fine individuals who have devoted their careers to legal aid, as we continue to advocate for increased funding for these crucial services.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

New Rules Rule: BBA Participates in MRPC Comment and Review Process

It has been a busy time for rule-related news from the SJC.  First, the SJC posted proposed revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct, requesting comment from the bar.  Then, only a few days later, the SJC posted the revised Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct online.  The full impacts of both remain to be seen, but we are pleased that the SJC has involved the bar in their procedures.

The Code of Judicial Conduct changes, from an institutional perspective, appear to ease some of the restrictions on judicial interaction with attorneys and bar associations.  For example, a number of proposed revisions remove limits on judicial participation at bar association events.  The BBA encourages anyone who is interested to examine the new rules and comment as they see fit.  We plan to do the same.  Comments are due by Friday May 22 and should be sent to the Committee to Study the Code of Judicial Conduct at CodeJudicialConductComm@sjc.state.ma.us. The comments received will be made available to the public, and the Committee will make its recommendations to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court following receipt and review of public comments.

The revised rules of professional conduct are the culmination of months of consideration, revision, and even oral argument that began more than a year ago.  In July 2013, with the SJC’s permission, the SJC Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct (“SJC Committee”) published its proposed rules for comment.

Many of the proposed changes were based on the model rules proposed by the ABA Ethics 2000 Commission and the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20.  The BBA’s Ethics Committee and Bankruptcy Law Section both carefully reviewed the rules and composed six comments, which were submitted to the SJC Committee in February 2014.  Following careful review of these and other comments, the SJC Committee submitted revised proposed rules to the Justices of the SJC on May 14, 2014.

In October, the SJC Justices announced their decisions regarding some rules and requested oral argument on certain issues for some others in December.  Ever since then, we have been eagerly awaiting their final decisions.

We were particularly pleased to see some revisions in-line with the BBA’s comments.  Most notably, the BBA’s Ethics Committee encouraged adoption of Model Rule 3.5, lifting the old MRPC prohibition on all juror contact, even after the jury was discharged.  The new adopted rule follows this recommendation with significantly fewer limits on juror communication after discharge, barring contact only if the communication is prohibited by law or court order, the juror has made known to the lawyer a desire not to communicate, or the communication involves misrepresentation, coercion, duress, or harassment.

Another notable rule change in keeping with recommendations from the BBA’s Ethics Committee was incorporation of the ABA Model Rule into MRPC 7.2, deleting the requirement to retain advertising materials.  The old MRPC required lawyers to keep a copy or recording of all advertisements for two years after its last dissemination.  In their meetings, the Ethics Committee discussed the anachronistic elements of the old rule, and the challenges facing lawyers and law firms with web sites.  The definition of lawyer advertising materials is broad enough to include web and social media communications, making it almost impossible to accurately keep such records.  The new rule is less burdensome and easier to follow.

Finally, the final rules reflect the Ethics Committee’s recommendation to include the “catch-all” category in MRPC 8.4(h), which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice law.”  The Standing Advisory Committee had proposed deleting that language.  While the Ethics Committee expressed concerns about the vagueness of this standard and the potential for its inconsistent application, Committee members were more troubled by the thought that egregious attorney conduct that was not a crime or fraud and not otherwise in violation of a provision in Rule 8.4 would go undisciplined because it was not specifically included in the definition of professional misconduct.  Their comments also noted that the Committee was unaware of any reported abuse of this provision, and that the facts of reported cases under this provision merited discipline.

Because of the voluminous rules changes and the complexity of the MRPC, we look forward to a program hosted by our Ethics Committee in the coming months explaining the new rules and their implications for practitioners.  We also expect to take part in a similarly comprehensive and successful comment and review process in the near future for the proposed revisions to the CJC.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association