Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pilot Program at Springfield District Court Starts Friday

A Pilot Program Suspending Certain Requirements of Joint Standing Order No. 1-04 is effective April 1, 2011  at the Springfield District Court for certain civil money damage actions. In actions where all parties are represented by counsel, "parties and their counsel may avoid appearance in court for the conduct of a Case Management Conference upon the timely filing of a joint certification that the purposes of such conference have been achieved by the parties without such appearance." The full text of Joint Standing Order 1-04 is available from Mass. District Court Standing Orders.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

8th Edition MA Residential Code, effective February 4, 2011

"The 8th edition residential code (for one and two family dwellings and townhouses three stories and less) became effective with the February 4, 2011 Massachusetts Register. The 7th edition residential code will remain in effect concurrently with the new 8th edition until August 4, 2011. During the concurrency period a project can be designed using either edition. The deadline for filing a permit application for projects designed using the 7th edition is August 3, 2011.

The 8th edition residential code is comprised of the International Residential Code 2009 (IRC) and a separate package with Massachusetts amendments. The IRC is sold by the International Code Council and the Massachusetts amendments package will be available at the State House Bookstore (617-727-2834)."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Full-Text Nolo Books Online for Free

While our library card holders have access to full text of all Nolo titles from home, now Nolo is offering free access for everybody to a select group of books "in their entirety for free." Wow! Here's the list:
Nolo says, "We're making these books available online for free because we want to make the valuable information they contain as widely available as possible. Look for more books to be added in the future. We hope you find them useful!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recreation vehicle laws stiffened for operators

New operator rules have gone into effect for drivers of off highway vehicles. Chapter 202 of the acts of 2010 adds age limits and other restrictions, and stiffens fines for alcoholic beverage use.
Operators under the age of 18 are required to take a safety course. No one under 10 may operate a vehicle under any circumstances. Persons between the ages of 10 to 14 are only allowed to use the vehicles in a sanctioned and supervised race, or to prepare for the race under adult supervision. All vehicles must now be registered with the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Fines have been increased for recklessly operating an off road vehicle.
For this and other laws about motor vehicles, see our page, Law about Automobiles.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Contingent fee rule changed by SJC

Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct has been significantly amended. The rule governs what attorneys can charge and collect for contingent fees, and took effect March 15. The rule includes two sample fee agreements. While attorneys are not required to use either form, if their form is materially different from, or adds to the suggested forms, those differences should be explained to the client for their approval in writing.
For the entire Rules of Professional Conduct, and other helpful information for and about attorneys, see our page Law about Lawyers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Homestead Law Effective Today

The new law, St.2010, c.395,  provides some very significant changes to past homestead law, including:
  • Automatically protects up to $125,000 in home equity without filing
  • Protects up to $500,000 for those who file for homestead protection
  • Allows both spouses to file
  • Clarifies that there is no need to re-file after refinancing. For those with a pre-existing homestead, NCLC and MLRI recommend: "Every homeowner who has refinanced his/her mortgage in the last several years should consider recording a new homestead declaration since many refinancing mortgages contained a waiver of homestead rights.")
  • Permits homestead protection for homes kept in trusts
  • Permits homestead protection for manufactured homes
We've updated our Law About Homestead page to provide links to information and new forms.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New: Law About Gender Identity and Expression

After the recent issuance of two new executive orders on protection for gender identity, we've had more questions about transgender issues and rights, so we've created a new page: Massachusetts Law About Gender Identity and Expression, which includes state laws, cases, local ordinances, websites and more.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

New Statewide Records Retention Schedule

The state's Records Retention Board issued a new edition of the Statewide Records Retention Schedule in January. We've added it to our page on Freedom of Information, and created a new section,  Record Retention Schedules, which brings together requirements for municipal and state governments.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pending Legislation Re: Craft Brewers

We've had some questions about a pending bill to change the legal relationship between craft brewers and wholesalers. The current law is MGL c.138, s.25E. The bill  to amend it, H1897, seeks to define "small brewer relationships" and to carve out different requirements for small brewers than for others. Another bill, H1871, also addresses the relationship between brewers and wholesalers, but does not distinguish small brewers from large. You can find an explanation of the bills at