Monday, June 29, 2009

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Firefighters in Reverse Discrimination Case

Case: Ricci v. DeStefano. A group of New Haven, CT firefighters who were tested for evaluation for promotions, and scored higher than minorities who took the same test, initiated a lawsuit in 2003 when the City of New Haven threw out the test results, fearing a lawsuit by the minority firefighters. The plaintiffs alleged reverse discrimination had occurred, and the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision agreed with them, overturning a previous 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify the City's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Massachusetts Erroneous Convictions Law

Yesterday, in Guzman v. Commonwealth, the Appeals Court provided guidance on section 1(B) of MGL c.258D, which provides for relief for the erroneously convicted under certain circumstances.
The court ruled that eligibility under 1(B)(ii) for those who have been granted judicial relief "on grounds which tend to establish the[ir] innocence," means "no more and no less than grounds resting upon facts and circumstances probative of the proposition that the claimant did not commit the crime." Therefore, the plaintiff's claim was allowed to go forward.
The court went on to explain that this was simply a decision on the threshold issue of eligibility to proceed, since that was the issue that was briefed, but that factual innocence may be an appropriate issue for summary judgment in such cases. "We recognize, as a theoretical matter, that there could well be instances where the Commonwealth would be entitled to judgment as matter of law (e.g., summary judgment or directed verdict) on the actual innocence issue. The question presented would be whether, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the claimant, a jury could find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the plaintiff did not commit the crime. "

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deferred First-Year Associates May Serve as Law Clerks

Due to the current fiscal crisis, the Massachusetts courts are unable to hire law clerks for next year. The Chief Justice for Administration and Management asked for an ethics opinion on whether the courts could "accept as volunteer interns law firm associates who have had their September 2009 start dates deferred and who will be receiving stipends and/or health benefits from their respective law firms during the deferral periods."

The SJC Committee on Judicial Ethics issued an opinion on June 9, 2009, indicating that first year associates of law firms whose employment has been deferred would be permitted to serve the court as volunteer law clerks under a double-blind system. Judges would not know what firm employs the law clerk, the law firm could not acknowledge their participation in the program, and the law clerks themselves could not share the name of their employer, "in print or electronically, including on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, during the period they work for the judges of the Trial Court."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SJC clarifies Vacation as wages

The SJC in a recent ruling has made it clear that employees must be paid for earned vacation upon termination. In Electronic Data Systems vs. the Attorney General, the court ruled that chapter 149 sec. 148 "requires such an employee to be paid for unused vacation time remaining at the time of involuntary discharge..." The policy of the corporation contravened the statute. The Attorney General's office had long interpreted the statute in that way. For more information on related topics, see our page on termination, wages, as well as our page on unemployment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Site is Back Up

Our transition to the new design is complete, and the site is fully functional once again. Because every page has moved (and the search function won't work well until Google re-indexes the site), here's some basic information to help in your navigation:
Click on Law by Subject for our "Law About" subject guides, popular name table and forms.
Click on Law by Source for cases, regulations, court rules, executive orders, town bylaws, and any other primary law.
Click on Library Locations and Services for library addresses, hours, phone numbers, etc., policies and services.
You'll also find more self-explanatory buttons for Databases, the Library Catalog and more.
If you can't locate the information you need, ask us. We'll be happy to help you find what you're looking for.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anti-Smoking Legislation

The Watertown Tab & Press has a handy summary of pending anti-smoking legislation in Massachusetts in their June 12 edition. While you'll need to scroll down a bit to see it, in a section called "Tobacco Crackdown" the paper lists a number of pending bills, including proposals prohibiting:
  • smoking within 25 feet of the door of a public building (H 2162)
  • people under 18 from buying, possessing or smoking tobacco (H 3593)
  • sale of flavored cigarettes (H 2076)
  • smoking in a car with children (H3475)
  • smoking by anyone anywhere (H 2129)

Information on existing smoking laws is available at our Law About Smoking.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FDA Oversight of Tobacco

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, HR1256, passed the House last week by a vote of 307-97 and is headed to conference committee. The bill would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Website Redesign

Our website has been undergoing a major redesign in order to make it more handicapped accessible. On Saturday and Sunday June 20-21, the old site will come down and the new site will go up in its place. Because the blog and all the web pages will be down for a period of time that weekend, we will try to provide information on twitter about how to access our catalog and databases, which are hosted remotely.

Nearly every page on the site will remain on the site in the new design, but everything is moving. If you link to our site and would like to know where a given page will be as of June 21, please let us know and we can give you the new URL.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Open House at Worcester Law Library

Please join us on Thursday June 4, 2009 from 2-4 for an open house at the beautiful new Worcester Law Library at 184 Main Street in Worcester. See some pictures of the library at Flickr to get inspired!