Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Worried about the recent data security breaches at your local department stores? What are the current laws protecting us from identity theft?

Take a look at our webpage on Massachusetts Laws about Identity Theft by clicking here.

Within that page is the link to the Attorney General’s Guide on Identity Theft for Victims and Consumers.

Do you have a Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library card? If so, you can access the HeinOnline journal database to read the following law journal articles:

·       Cybersecurity in the Payment Card Industry, by Richard Epstein and Thomas P. Brown, 75 University of Chicago Law Review 2008, pages 203 – 224.

·       Government and Private Sector Roles in Providing Information Security in the U.S. Financial Services Industry, by Mark MacCarthy from I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 8 ISJLP 1 2012-2013, pages 242 - 276.

·       State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem, by Scott J. Shackelford and Richard B. Andres, 42 Georgetown Journal of International Law, 42 Geo. J. Int’l L. pages 971 - 1016, 2010-2011.

Don’t have a Law Library card yet? It’s easy to apply for one at any of our 17 Trial Court Law Libraries. Click here for the link to our locations and hours of operation.
Interested in reading some additional articles? These are from the Bloomberg Businessweek’s website:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Endangered Species Legislation and the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

Giant flocks of passenger pigeons, sometimes exceeding three billion birds, once flew over our country. “On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned, dissected, photographed and mounted.” *

Prior to Martha’s death, individual state legislatures tried to pass laws that might have protected the Passenger Pigeons, to no avail. Subsequent conservation actions and federal legislation have made a difference in saving species under threat of extinction.

 In “Saving our Birds”, a meditation on Martha’s death and the extinction of her kind in the New York Times, John W. Fitzpatrick wrote

“The Endangered Species Act [of 1973] is by far the most powerful piece of environmental legislation ever passed. Today, the act continues to be a source of on-the-ground success — a steadfast reminder that timely conservation pays off . . . On this centenary of Martha’s death, it bears reflection that a strong federal Endangered Species Act would have saved the passenger pigeon a century and a half ago.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. Their website devoted to Endangered Species is a rich source of information for anyone interested in the conservation of species.

Massachusetts has its own Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) in M.G.L. c. 131A, with implementing regulations at 321 CMR 10.00. The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP), part of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is responsible for protecting endangered vertebrate and invertebrate animals and native plants and maintaining the official Massachusetts List of Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Massachusetts Elections Statistics

PD43+ is a searchable database for Massachusetts elections statistics, extracted from the biannual report of voter registration, turnout, and election results put together by the Massachusetts Secretary's Office, also known as Public Document 43.  This website is a great resource for those interested in Massachusetts politics at all levels for accessing election data.  Trying to remember who ran for District Attorney in your county 20 years ago or who ran for Governor of our state 40 years ago?  Want to know how many percentage points a candidate lost by?  Interested in the 2014 Massachusetts primary results of September 9, 2014?

This database allows you to search Federal, State and Local election statistics since 1970, providing a breakdown of vote total by county, town, ward, and even precinct.  Full-text of ballot initiatives and results are available from 1972 to 2012.  You can also run a search by candidate and the website will provide a historical overview of all elections that they have run in, their success rate, and a list of their opponents in those races.

See our webpage, "Massachusetts Law About Elections and Voting."

Remember to Vote in the State Election, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  Polling Hours are 7am until 8pm.  See 2014 State Election Candidates.

Marvel Superheroes almost went to court

Legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was the creator or co-creator (along with the equally famous Stan Lee) of some of Marvel Comics' greatest superheroes, including the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron man, the Avengers, X-Men, and more.  However, while Stan Lee was an employee of Marvel Comics, Kirby was treated as a freelance artist, putting him in the legal category of "work for hire", so he did not collect royalties for the work he did, nor does his family collect royalties now on the huge amount of money made from these characters in comics or films. (Jack Kirby died in 1994.)

On September 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether or not they would hear the case in which the family of Jack Kirby sued Marvel Comics (now owned by Disney) for compensation for the creations of Jack Kirby.  It was expected to be a landmark case in copyright law.  It will never be heard, because Marvel Comics has settled the case (on September 26th), just days before it might have gone to the Supreme Court Justices.

To read about this, one might consider these articles in the news:
How the Supreme Court and Jack Kirby Could Change Everything
Marvel and Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute.
Marvel & Jack Kirby Heirs Settle Legal Dispute Ahead of Supreme Court Showdown

Wikipedia has information on Jack Kirby's life and career in general.

For information on copyright law, see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries web page "Law on Copyright".

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Crosswalk Courtesy in Massachusetts is Also the Law

General law chapter 89, section 11 lays out the law on crosswalks absent traffic signals. If a motorist is approaching a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way if they are in the path of a motorist or if they are within 10 feet of the half way point in the road. Motorists are not allowed to pass a vehicle that has yielded the right of way to a pedestrian, nor are they to block a crosswalk. If a pedestrian is injured by a motorist in a marked crosswalk, an investigation will be conducted, and if deemed appropriate, civil or criminal violations will result in a citation, or even a criminal complaint. Fines are not to exceed $200. If you break the law, you can face serious consequences.

For a refresher on Laws of the Road, download the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Drivers Manual.

Suffolk District Attorney's Office Introduces Indy, a Golden Retriever and Labrador Mix

District Attorney Daniel Conley recently introduced Indy, a facility dog trained to offer stress relief to people in emotional turmoil.  Indy plans to work at least four years in Suffolk County.  Unlike service animals trained to aid one person with the activities of daily living, Indy has been trained by Canine Companions to encourage calm and security to a succession of strangers in tense situations.  The hope is that witnesses and victims may be better able to undergo stressful interviews after interacting with Indy.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thinking of Assisted Living

The intention of assisted living facilities is to offer adults who may need some help with activities such as housecleaning and meals to live on their own.  The underlying philosophy of assisted living is based on providing needed services to residents in a way that enhances their autonomy, privacy and individuality.  

The Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs offers a wealth of information to assist you in deciding whether assisted living is the right option for you or your family member in choosing the most appropriate residence.   Massachusetts considers the facilities similar to apartment living rather than a long-term care nursing facilities. 

Prior to making a decision to move into a facility, a prospective resident is giving the Assisted Living in Massachusetts: A Consumer’s Guide.  The guide includes questions and answers and other helpful information about costs, the residency agreement or contract, the disclosure of rights and services, staffing and services, activities, Special Care Residences, and more. There is also a “consumer checklist” for you to use when you visit a facility. has additional information including the affordability of assisted living, eligibility, benefits, and so much more.   

Choosing the Best Long-Term Care Option, a publication provided by the Attorney General outlines the options available including questions to ask a potential caregiver.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September is disaster preparedness month

Hurricane, flood, fire.  Nobody wants to think they will be the victim of a natural disaster, but the successful attorney needs to plan for such contingencies.  What are you doing to preserve client files and other critical office documents?  Here are a few online resources that you might want to investigate before disaster strikes:

American Bar Association, Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness. Resources for Lawyers and Law Firms.   

Massachusetts Bar Association, Law Practice Management Committee. Resources for Disaster Recovery and Preparation.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.  Massachusetts Ready.

Northeast Document Conservation Center. Resources on Disaster Planning.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ready Business Section.

Receive emergency alerts and critical information on your Smartphone by downloading the free "Massachusetts Alerts" app today! The app is available for both Apple and Android phones and tablets.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Massachusetts State Undergraduate and Law School Degree in 6 Years

Fitchburg State University and the University of Massachusetts Law School have signed an agreement making it possible for motivated students, set on a career in law, to complete both degrees after three years spent studying at each institution.  Qualified students are guaranteed admission to UMASS Law and spend their senior undergraduate year in law school.

Many students will not be ready to commit to a career as they begin undergraduate school.  Besides the obvious cost savings, there are other factors to consider when deciding on an accelerated J.D. program. Interested candidates should look carefully into what being a lawyer is really all about. 

Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell, is a lighthearted, but informative resource for those contemplating law school and a legal career.