Thursday, September 24, 2009

Governor's Authority to Make New Law Effective Immediately

If a law does not have an emergency preamble, it is typically effective 90 days after enactment. The newly-passed law permitting the governor to appoint an interim senator does not have such a preamble. Yet a provision in the state constitution appears to give the governor the authority to determine that the law should take effect immediately by including a letter to the secretary of state explaining his reasoning. Mass. Constitution Articles of Amendment XLVIII, Part II Emergency Measures, says in part "...if the governor, at any time before the election at which it is to be submitted to the people on referendum, files with the secretary of the commonwealth a statement declaring that in his opinion the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or convenience requires that such law should take effect forthwith and that it is an emergency law and setting forth the facts constituting the emergency, then such law, if not previously suspended as hereinafter provided, shall take effect without suspension...".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Details on New Small Claims Procedure

The District Court recently released Small Claims Changes Effective October 1, 2009, Mass. District Court Transmittal 1026, Sept. 11, 2009. This 38-page document includes everything you need to know about new small claims procedures, including "a one-page chart summarizing the amendments to the rules, a one-page checklist for entering default judgments, a redlined version of the rules and commentary, highlighting the changes, five new forms which will be used in implementing the new changes..., and revised instructions for the back of the “STATEMENT OF SMALL CLAIM AND NOTICE OF TRIAL” (DC-SC-1) form, which will be introduced when the form is next reprinted." More information on Small Claims is available at Mass. Law About Small Claims.

Friday, September 18, 2009

SJC Rules GPS Monitoring of Car is Okay

The Mass. Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that police may secretly break into a suspect's vehicle and install a GPS tracking device if the state first obtains a valid warrant.

In an unanimous decision, the court decided in Commonwealth v. Connolly, that the covert placement of such a device into a private car is a seizure. However, it also said it is not a violation of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights' ban on unreasonable searches and seizures as long as the state establishes “before a magistrate, probable cause to believe that a particularly described offense has been...or is about to be committed, and that GPS monitoring of the vehicle will produce evidence...or will aid in the apprehension of a person" who police believe is responsible for that offense.

While most search warrants are valid for seven days, the court said that GPS monitoring can last up to fifteen days.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Praising our own "Unsung Heroes"

For the 5th year, Lawyers Weekly is saluting "unsung heroes" by honoring professionals in various areas. This year, two of our own have been nominated as Law Librarians : Richard Adamo and Meg Hayden.
Richard Adamo, Essex Law Library : "When Richie took over the library, it was a disaster. He turned it into one of the finest law libraries anywhere. He is also a model civil servant. He will drop everything to help a patron and will not stop until he finds an answer. If that means going to another library for the resource, it is done. He also treats everyone the same. If a non-lawyer or pro se litigant comes in for help, they are treated as well or better than the attorneys. He is a true gentleman and a fine librarian."
Meg Hayden, Electronic Resources Librarian : "Meg serves as electronic resources librarian for the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries. In addition to keeping all of the TCLLs connected, Meg has designed a top-notch website that provides access to laws and legal information ranging from abortion to zoning. Meg has spent many a long weekend and evening developing and refining the cases database to insure free access to Supreme Judicial court and Appeals Court cases. Meg's vision of customer service has been an inspiration to us all in the Trial Court Law Libraries."
The luncheon for all the nominees is Friday, September 18th. We know you will join us in offering Meg and Richard a hearty congratulations for their nominations. They are the best!

Holy Moses!

The Worcester legal community is going to party for Moses next Thursday at the Worcester Law Library! Mass. Lawyers Weekly reports that the deadline to RSVP for the festivities is tomorrow. For more information, you can call the Worcester Law Library at 508-831-2525.