Monday, May 23, 2011

Can the second and third cars in line proceed through a stop sign?

This is one of the most common questions we get. People who learned to drive in Massachusetts some years ago were taught that it was OK, and don't quite believe that the law (MGL c.89, s.9) says otherwise. Happily, the Boston Globe printed a column this weekend, Some old habits aren’t right, or safe, anymore, that spells it out and quotes the experts. So, although it may have been the law "in the 1960s and early 1970s," now every car must stop when they are "at the point nearest the intersecting roadway."   

Friday, May 20, 2011

Giving a Caregiver Authorization to Make Decisions for Your Children

MGL c.201F provides a mechanism for parents to authorize a caregiver to make educational and health decisions for their children: the Caregiver Authorization Affidavit. A caregiver is defined as "an adult with whom a minor resides," and there are, of course, many reasons why a parent may need their children to live with someone else for a period of time. The authorization is good for up to two years (you specify the time period) and does not have to be filed with the court. Also, it does not affect the parent's rights to make decisions for the child. In fact, if the decisions of the caregiver and parent conflict, the parent's decision will "supersede the decision of the caregiver."

The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court provides directions for filling out the form, and you can read more about its uses at the Massachusetts Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law blog, Mass. Legal Help's Caregiver Educational and Medical Authorization, and the Department of Education, which provides helpful information for schools on how to manage caregiver authorizations. You'll find a link to the form on our website as well. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Probate and Family Court Standing Orders

We've added the text of all currently effective Probate and Family Court Standing Orders to our site. The court has added three new standing orders in the past few weeks, which brought the need for a centralized page to our attention. The new orders:
  • Standing Order 1-11: Probate and Family Court's Use of Information Contained in the Court Activity Record Information (CARI) Report, effective June 1, 2011
  • Standing Order 2-11: Probate and Family Court's Use of Information Obtained by the Department of Children and Families, effective June 1, 2011
  • Standing Order 3-11: Modification Pilot Program for IV-D cases in the Bristol Division of the Probate and Family Court, effective May 16, 2011

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hampden County Bar's "Day of Justice" Offers Programs on Key Issues

The Hampden County Bar Association's Day of Justice progam today is offering exciting workshops on current issues of interest to residents from 1-4 pm at the Old First Church at Court Square in Springfield, MA. Workshops are free and include:
  • What to do When Stopped by Police?
  • When Your Landlord is Foreclosed Upon: What a Tenant Needs to Know
  • Options for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
  • Getting Help with Child Support Issues
  • I Have Been Fired! Now What?
  • Option for Immigrants Who are Survivors of Crime and Abuse.
For more information, contact the bar association at (413) 732-4648.

Open Court Project Puts Quincy District Court Live on Internet

Beginning today, the Quincy District Court's First Criminal Session's proceedings will be streamed live over the Internet. The Open Court project is an experiment in improving access to court proceedings. "At the outset, a video camera has been set up to stream the court’s First Session courtroom. Anyone on the internet may view these live proceedings, alongside daily archives. A Wi-Fi network has also been set up for journalists and bloggers who wish to transmit stories, post reports, and otherwise go about their online business directly from the courtroom."

The project is beginning with First Session proceedings, which include "arraignments, new summons arrests and default removals."  According to the Boston Globe, "John Davidow, executive editor in charge of new media at WBUR, who developed the idea for the project.... said that during the next year, the goal is to move the experiment outside the first session courtroom. He said the hope is to stream criminal and civil trials and small claims cases as well."

More information on how the project will function within the courtroom is available at the Boston Globe and the Open Court site. Twitter hashtag: #opencourtus.