Amid a crowd of more than 1,200 lawyers and judges at the Boston Bar Association's annual Law Day Dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center, BBA President J.D. Smeallie presented the BBA's Citation of Judicial Excellence to First Justice Jeffrey Winik of the Boston Housing Court.
"We are profoundly grateful to Judge Winik for his unwavering commitment to assuring access to justice for all litigants in his court, whether landlord or tenant, whether rich or poor," said Smeallie. "His dedication and creativity in helping to advance the Lawyer for the Day Program in the Housing Court has ensured that unrepresented litigants have the benefit of counsel, thereby providing a fair hearing and fulfilling the enduring promise of equal access to justice for all."
The Lawyer for the Day Program in the Housing Court is operated by the BBA with support from the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Greater Boston Legal Services and the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and funding from the Boston Bar Foundation. The program has been in operation for 14 years, and from the get-go has had two help tables, one for landlords and one for tenants.
Last year 457 volunteers assisted more than 976 tenants and 178 landlords in reaching fair settlements. Since the program began, an estimated 12,000 volunteers have helped more than 14,732 individuals.
Thanks to Judge Winik's leadership, the program has over the years expanded to provide opportunities for volunteers to try cases and to make limited appearances for both landlords and tenants who cannot afford to hire an attorney.