Friday, July 27, 2007

Margot Botsford SJC Pick

Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick nominated Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Governor's Council plans to set a date for Botsford's confirmation hearing next week.

Judge Botsford was responsible for the Hancock Report, a 350-page report to the Supreme Judicial Court on public school funding in Massachusetts in the case Hancock v. Driscoll. While the SJC dismissed the case, concluding it was the role of the legislature and not the court to determine the structure of school funding, "three days after the SJC's decision, the state legislature-having 'seen the handwriting on the wall,' says Botsford-passed the Education Reform Act, which restructured the formula by which state funds were doled out to local districts," according to the Northeastern University Alumni Magazine. Law librarians know her best from her work as a long-time editor of Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts.

More information on the judicial nomination and approval process is available from the Judicial Nomination Commission.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Mexico Couples May Marry

According to GLAD, "because New Mexico’s laws do not prohibit marriage between parties of the same gender," the state has "issued a corrective notice to all Massachusetts city and town clerks authorizing them to allow same-sex couples from New Mexico to apply for marriage licenses." We're still trying to get our hands on the notice (and wishing more state agencies would post such things on their websites), and will provide a link here when we have it.

In the meantime, more information on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for out of state couples is available on our site at Law About Same-Sex Marriage.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Attorney-Client Privilege and Public Records Access

Drawing a distinction between the work-product doctrine and attorney-client privilege, a unanimous Supreme Judicial Court ruled last week in Suffolk Construction v. DCAM, 449 Mass. 444 (2007), that documents covered by attorney-client privilege are not public records under MGL c.66, s.10 and MGL c.4, s.7, cl. twenty-sixth.

Although the court had previously held in General Electric Co. v. Department of Environmental Protection, 429 Mass. 798 (1999), that the work-product doctrine did not exempt certain documents from the public records law, since attorney work-product was not specifically included in the list of exemptions in MGL c.4, s.7, cl. twenty-sixth, the current case reaches a different conclusion for documents covered by attorney-client privilege.

The court also contrasts this case with District Attorney for Plymouth County v. Board of Selectman of Middleborough, 395 Mass. 629 (1985), in which it held that public officials could not hold closed meetings in order to consult with their attorneys because it would be in violation of the public meeting law, stating "the Legislature enumerated seven exceptions to its prohibition against private meetings of governmental bodies. '[E]xceptions are not to be implied.'"

For more information, see Law About Freedom of Information and Public Records.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Popular Magazines

We already offer you home access to law review articles through HeinOnline, but now we're pleased to bring you a database of more popular titles. General Reference Center Gold includes Consumer Reports, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People, Vanity Fair and many more. It also includes more scholarly titles. All you need is a library card to check it out.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Massachusetts Newspapers Now Available

At last some good news! Our cardholders can now access all the databases available through the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners using their Trial Court Law Libraries Card. There is a great deal of content available, so we'll try to profile one database at a time. Today, we bring you Massachusetts Newsstand, available through ProQuest, which brings you twelve Massachusetts newspapers full-text. They are:
  • Berkshire Eagle 2005-
  • Boston Globe 1980-
  • Boston Herald 1991-
  • Business West (Chicopee) 1992-
  • Gazette (Haverhill) 12/31/92-8/9/07
  • Lowell Sun 2004-
  • North Adams Transcript 2005-
  • Patriot Ledger (Quincy) 1991-
  • Plymouth County Business Review 1991-
  • Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg) 2005-
  • Standard-Times (New Bedford) 1/4/92-8/19/97
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette 1989-
Just go to Massachusetts Newsstand, enter the barcode number from the back of your law library card and go!