Friday, February 26, 2010

Access to Justice state and federal issue

The phrase "Access to Justice" has taken on greater import on the state and federal levels this week. The Massachusetts court system has announced a new commission to study issues of the self represented litigant in the state courts. The Globe reports that Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe will be heading a federal commission on Access to Justice focusing on increasing legal access for the poor.
The Trial Court Law Libraries applaud these efforts, and hope to be part of the solutions. Recently a national conference on public libraries and access to justice was held in Texas with a team from Massachusetts in attendance.
We know that our Law by Subject pages, our IM and email reference, and our free document delivery reach thousands of people. Our 17 brick and mortar locations reach thousands more. We look forward to being part of the discussion on access to justice at all levels.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cinema of Law Film Series Again On Tuesdays in March

Films about the law will be shown in the auditorium of the Berkshire Athenaeum again this year on Tuesdays in March sponsored by the Berkshire Law Library, Berkshire Bar Association and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. Each of the films in the series, “The Cinema of Law” will be introduced by a member of the Berkshire Bar. No admission will be charged.

Dates, films and speakers are as follows:

  •      March 2    The  Devil and Daniel Webster introduced by Attorney Chris Dodig
  •      March 9    Philadelphia introduced by Attorney Michael Hinkley
  •      March 16     A Man with a Plan  introduced by Register Andrea Nuciforo
  •      March 23    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to be introduced by Hon. Fredric Rutberg

A presentation will begin at 6 p.m., and the movies will follow. Free Popcorn will be served, and there will be a display of law books related to the subject of the movie from the Law Library’s collection.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bullying Legislation Moves Forward

The Joint Committee on Education yesterday voiced their support for H483, An Act Relative to the Prevention of Bullying, together with S228, An Act Relative to Bullying. The bill, which contains provisions that address both traditional bullying and cyberbullying, now moves to the Senate. According to the Boston Globe, "Massachusetts is among less than a dozen states that have not passed a law to prevent bullying - a problem school administrators say has grown more hostile and pervasive in recent years as students harass others via social websites and cellphones equipped with text messaging and cameras."

More information on bullying and the law is available at Massachusetts Law About Bullying.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Help for Haiti

Governor Patrick has put up a web page called Help for Haiti to assist our Haitian community here in Massachusetts and the people of Haiti following the aftermath of the earthquake on Jan. 10, 2010. The page includes information on both how to help and how to get help.

Additionally, Haitian nationals who cannot return to Haiti due to the earthquake may be eligible to apply for Temporary Protective Status (TPS), due to a special 18-month designation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Janet Napolitano. For more information, see Temporary Protected Status – Haiti, and the Application for Temporary Protected Status available from the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Finally, late last month, Gov. Deval Patrick signed Executive Order 520 which establishes a "catastrophic leave donation program to support Commonwealth employees impacted by the tragedy in Haiti." Under this program,  "Commonwealth employees may donate earned vacation and personal leave to co-workers, who have relatives in Haiti, for the purpose of travel to the country of Haiti, or to care for family members impacted by the recent tragedy in Haiti."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Changes to credit card laws

February 22 marks the effective date of the new federal law regulating credit card disclosure called the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. Among other things, the act requires the lender to notify you 45 days before any changes to your terms and conditions. Your monthly credit card bill will include information on how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you only make minimum payments. It regulates the issuance of cards to people under 21, and puts limits on fees for gift cards as well.
The Federal Reserve has more details on the changes with some samples of what kind of information you will see.
See our page on Credit and Banking for related information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New law extends reach of restraining order.

Massachusetts has a new law extending protection to victims of harassment. The new law, chapter 258E of the General laws is for victims of harassment which are often not persons covered under our existing 209A protective restraining order statute.
The complainant should have experienced 3 instances of harassment which is defined here in section 1 : "...acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property; or (ii) an act that: (A) by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations; or (B) constitutes a violation of section 13B, 13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 23, 24, 24B, 26C, 43 or 43A of chapter 265 or section 3 of chapter 272."
This protective order can be issued against people who are not domestic partners or family members. Violations of a protective order are criminal offenses.
An article in the Globe here gives some history to the issue.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Low-Speed Vehicles

Since last July, Massachusetts has had a law (MGL c.90, s.1F-1I, added by St.2008, c.523) which allows operation of low-speed vehicles (those that do not travel more than 25 mph) on certain roads, and also requires registration of those vehicles. Yet, according to Sunday's Boston Globe, only 10 such vehicles have been registered in the state so far. More information on Low-Speed Vehicles is available from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.