Providing opportunities for education and pro bono in all substantive areas of real estate law

From Issue Spot: Sequestration to Solution

The term “budget sequestration” refers to automatic categorical federal spending cuts.  We are now seeing the immediate results of the sequestration enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that kicked in on March 1, 2013.  The federal judiciary has been amongst the hardest hit.  Operating on an annual, nationwide $7 billion appropriation, less than 0.02% of the total federal budget, the courts have long been stretched thin.  However, with the latest sequestration resulting in a loss of about $350 million, roughly five percent of its budget, the courts are at their breaking point.  The cuts have resulted in mandatory furloughs, hiring freezes, the elimination of numerous positions, training cutbacks, decreases in courthouse security, and major budget hits for indigent defense providers.

This dire situation even prompted some judicial vigilantism when a New York District Court judge took matters into his own hands.  In United States v. Laron Spicer, Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. held that although jurors merited protection due to a defendant gang member’s record of witness tampering, he could only afford to keep their names secret.  He refused to provide them with any additional safeguards, citing the multi-million dollar price tag associated with sequestering a jury.

Ironically, the small immediate savings to the federal government are likely to cost taxpayers far more in the future.  According to a recent Brennan Center for Justice report, cuts to federal defender services are resulting in increases in the number of cases assigned to private counsel, which is ultimately more expensive for taxpayers.

We at the BBA are very sensitive to this issue.  We have long been at the forefront of advocating for indigent defense services and fair judicial funding.  Recently, BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA representatives have been meeting with both state and federal court judges in Massachusetts to listen to their concerns.  Dacier, who frequently quotes articles XXIX and XXX of theMassachusetts Constitution, is a strong proponent of fair funding and honorable salaries for the judicial branch and the preservation of three co-equal branches of government.  We know it will be an uphill climb to accomplish these goals, but we are committed to finding solutions.

- Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

Real Estate Committees

  • Affordable Housing Committee
    The purpose of this committee is to educate the local bar concerning new initiatives in financing and developing affordable housing.

    Contact Information

    Terrence M. McNeil

    Boston Properties, Inc.

    Karen Kelleher

    Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency

    (617) 723-0500

  • Construction Law Committee
    This committee addresses all aspects of construction law, including contract documents and alternative project delivery systems; construction litigation, arbitration and ADR; public contract law and other legal issues of interest to practitioners who handle matters relating to construction.

    Contact Information

    Rhian M.J. Cull

    Hinckley Allen

    (617) 378-4120

    Michael P. Sams

    Kenney & Sams, P.C.

    (508) 490-8500

  • Land Use and Development Committee
    This committee focuses on issues related to land use and development in the context of real estate transactions.

    Contact Information

    Johanna W. Schneider

    Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster

    (617) 951-1162

    Mark A. Kablack

    M. A. Kablack & Associates, PC

    (508) 366-2900

  • Leasing Committee
    This committee studies issues affecting this area of practice and plans educational programs led by experienced leasing lawyers and other senior real estate practitioners.

    Contact Information

    Timothy J. Famulare

    Burns & Levinson LLP

    (617) 345-3000

    John N. Affuso

    Massachusetts Port Authority

    (617) 568-3144

  • Real Estate Finance Committee
    This committee is concerned with all aspects of financing real estate transactions.

    Contact Information

    Amanda S. Eckhoff

    Robinson & Cole LLP

    (617) 557-5988

  • Real Estate Public Policy Committee
    The BBA is very active in legislative and regulatory changes. Real estate attorneys are often asked to lend their expertise.

    Contact Information

    John J. Goldrosen

    Kopelman and Paige, P.C.

    (617) 556-0007

    Kathleen E. Connolly

    Murtha Cullina LLP

    (617) 457-4000

  • Real Estate Public Service Committee
    This committee oversees the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in Boston Housing Court. The Real Estate Section has provided educational programs both membership-wide and to the public on issues related to landlord and tenant law and the Housing Court.

    Contact Information

    Seth A. Malamut

    STAG Industrial, Inc.

    (617) 574-4777

    Katy E. Ward

    Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

    (617) 348-1850

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.
  • Title & Conveyancing Committee
    This committee covers topics such as mechanic's liens, survey matters and affirmative coverage; sophisticated title insurance endorsements; lis pendens; real estate litigation; title insurance claims; bankruptcy and creditors' rights; the land registration system; offers to purchase real estate; purchase and sale agreements; hazardous substances; forms of ownership; mortgages, foreclosures, easements and restrictions; and broker and lender relationships.

    Contact Information

    Sophie Stein

    Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company

    Richard D. Vetstein

    Vetstein Law Group, P.C.

    (508) 620-5352