Budget Discussion with Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and Anthony Benedetti and Randy Gioia of CPCS
In March, BBA Council turned its attention to the state budget. The Council meeting started with a presentation from Michael Widmer, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. He spoke about the economy from national, state, and municipal perspectives. He explained the difficulties of securing funding for discretionary parts of the budget, such as the courts, when non-discretionary items, such as health care and education, automatically take up more than half of the overall budget and income tax revenues are down compared to other time periods. Read more about his presentation here.
Two leaders of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti and Deputy Chief Counsel Public Defender Division Randy Gioia presented on the funding needs of public defenders and assistant district attorneys. These attorneys provide some of the most important services in the Commonwealth, but low salaries have resulted in problems of attrition. Read more here.
The BBA is committed to advancing the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitating access to justice, and serving the community at large. BBA President Paul Dacier's focus this year has been on the Massachusetts justice system and specifically the role of the Massachusetts Judiciary.
The BBA is always looking for ways to ensure that justice is administered fairly and efficiently. President Dacier brings a unique business perspective as the first in-house counsel to serve as BBA President. The Massachusetts judiciary has long been known for delivering quality justice. This is what every citizen in Massachusetts deserves and has come to expect.
The importance of our judiciary as a co-equal branch of government cannot be overstated.
LISTENING at Council Meetings
The BBA Council meets once a month to discuss association policy. President Dacier has carved out time on each month’s agenda to focus on issues surrounding the judiciary. The Council has invited guests with expertise in how our judiciary functions to share knowledge and generate ideas.
Court Administrator Harry Spence
Harry Spence, first Court Administrator of the Massachusetts Trial Court, visited the BBA Council in November. In his appointed position, created by court reorganization legislation enacted in 2011, he works in collaboration with the Chief Judge of the Trial Court to oversee the operation of seven Trial Court departments. He gave the Council a comprehensive view of the trial court system and discussed the Massachusetts Trial Court Strategic Plan, the importance of specialty courts and the constant push for innovation and technology. Read more about Spence’s presentation here, and President Dacier’s Take on the Massachusetts Trial Court Strategic Plan here, and “One Size Fits All Trial Courts” here.
Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey
Chief Justice Paula Carey, of the Trial Court, visited the BBA Council in January. She was appointed chief justice of the Trial Court in 2013 after serving 12 years as a judge, and as Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Chief Justice since 2007. The BBA Council heard from Chief Justice Carey on the Courts’ daily needs and the impact of current court funding levels.
Court Management Advisory Board Members Glenn Mangurian and Lisa C. Goodheart
Glenn Mangurian and Lisa C. Goodheart, Members of the Court Management Advisory Board (CMAB), will visit the BBA Council in April. CMAB was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2003 under the recommendation of the Monan Committee to advise and assist the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court and the Chief Justice for Administration and Management on matters pertaining to judicial administration and management and all matters of judicial reform. It is comprised of twelve members.
Lisa C. Goodheart was appointed to the CMAB in 2013. She is a former BBA President and partner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. who concentrates in environmental, real estate, and general business litigation.
Glenn Mangurian, is the chairman of the CMAB as well as being a consultant, speaker, and writer. He has been a leader in business and consulting in the Boston area for the last 25 years at CSC Index and as co-founder of FrontierWorks LLC. Read his post in the BBA’s leadership blog, Tipping the Scales entitled “Playing Not to Lose is a Losing Proposition.”
BUILDING relationships with each branch of government
Relationship building is one of the most important aspects of advocacy. The BBA understands that, while government may appear to be a collection of institutions, these are led and staffed by individuals who respond to personal communication. In the next few months the BBA will continue to make the case for adequate funding for the Judiciary when he meets with leaders in the City of Boston, and the state's House, Senate, and Executive branches.
City of Boston
In late January 2014, BBA President Paul Dacier and a group of BBA representatives met with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. They discussed the BBA's public service initiatives and the city's role in the administration of justice.
The Executive Branch
Last January, then President-Elect Dacier started off the year by meeting with Governor Deval Patrick to discuss court funding – specifically the Trial Court’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request and the need for a judicial pay raise. We are pleased that the judicial pay raise was signed into law this past summer.
On February 3rd, BBA President Paul Dacier and President-Elect Julia Huston met with the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel Kate Cook and Deputy Chief Legal Counsel Jamie Hoag to discuss BBA priorities including support for the judiciary and legal services, juvenile justice issues, and the BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts. The BBA looks forward to working with the Governor’s office more on these and other issues that impact the legal community and access to justice in Massachusetts.
The Judicial Branch
The BBA sat down and talked with leaders in state and federal courts to discuss their specific needs, ideas, and concerns. Among those we met with are:
Veterans Treatment Court Opening
On March 6, 2014, BBA President Paul Dacier attended the opening of the the new Veterans' Treatment Court Session at Boston Municipal Court. The session is staffed with specially trained judges, clinicians, probation officers, and attorneys in order to maximize the potential for positive outcomes for veterans and offer them the assistance they need.
The Legislative Branch
Equal Justice Coalition Legislative Recognition Reception
On February 26, 2014, BBA President Paul Dacier attended the Equal Justice Coalition's Legislative Recognition Reception, an annual event thanking legislators for their support for civil legal aid. Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, Representative Brian Dempsey and Senator Stephen Brewer, co-chairs of the Committee on Ways & Means, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and Eugene O'Flaherty, Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston, all received awards along with 68 House and Senate supporters of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation's FY14 budget amendment. Read more about the event here
Meeting with Speaker DeLeo
On February 18, BBA President Paul Dacier, President-Elect Julia Huston, and the Chair of the BBA's Legislative Advisory Committee Larry DiCara, met with Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and House Chief Legal Counsel James C. Kennedy. They discussed the ways the Massachusetts Legislature and our Judiciary have worked together to bring recent reforms to our state courts. This was another opportunity to advocate for adequate funding for all parts of our justice system -- our state courts, prosecutors, public defenders, and also civil legal aid attorneys. The BBA will continue to work closely with Speaker DeLeo and the Massachusetts Legislature.
Walk to the Hill
On Thursday, January 30, 2014, the BBA, along with its partners at the Equal Justice Coalition took part in the 15th annual Walk to the Hill in the Great Hall at the State House. More than 600 lawyers from around the state convened at the statehouse and met with their state legislators to discuss the importance of civil legal aid funding. Increasing civil legal aid funding means service providers can help more clients, ultimately resulting in more efficient courtrooms, a true and fair adversarial process, and more justice for all. Click here for more pictures from this year's event.
Facts about the Massachusetts Trial Court
- 379 judges
- 6,300 court staff
- 101 court facilities
- 45,000 people served daily
Facts about Civil Legal Aid
Click here to learn more about how to talk to your legislator about civil legal aid funding.
- 16 programs statewide
- See a list of the programs with links to their websites here.
- Read about how legal aid works on the Equal Justice Coalition’s (EJC) page here. The BBA helps manage EJC by serving on its Legislative Committee.
- Read background information on civil legal services funding in Massachusetts here.
- Nearly 1,000,000 people are eligible for civil legal aid.
- See this fact and others in the EJC’s Managing Partners letter to Governor Patrick here. Read other letters from the EJC’s current and past letter campaigns here.
- In 2013, the BBA launched its Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts. Comprised of 27 leaders from around the state including representatives of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches, academia, the private bar, in-house counsel, and legal services attorneys, the Task Force is working to quantify and find solutions for civil legal aid shortages.