Highlights from the October 11th Meeting of the ATJ Commission

Thank you to the Commissioners and guests who joined us for the most recent meeting of the MA ATJ Commission on Thursday, October 11th, 2018 at the Adams Courthouse. Highlights and key takeaways from the meeting included:

  • Introduction and Welcome to New Commissioners: We welcomed new Commissioners Elizabeth Ennen, Judge Richard McMahon, Clerk Magistrate Anthony Owens, Susan Nagl, Sandra Gant, Esme Caramello, Mary Ryan, Richard Johnston, and Jennifer Miller.
  • Update on Housing Court Expansion Project: Annette Duke of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute provided updates on the Massachusetts housing court expansion, which was fully funded at $2.6 million by the legislator. Chief Justice Sullivan further detailed expansion efforts as they relate to new court sittings and hiring efforts.
  • New Online Housing Court Lawyer for the Day Training: Annette also unveiled MLRI’s new lawyer for the day online training program, which officially went live on October 11th. The one-hour  course focuses on the eviction process from the beginning to the end and includes links to resources, the law, and forms. Developed by a team at MLRI with support from Volunteer Lawyers Project, Community Legal Aid, the North Shore Community Action Programs, and ThinkingKap, an online curriculum developer, the course can be accessed at www.masslegalservices.org/lfd-housing.
  • Public Charge Presentation and Q&A: Iris Gomez of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute presented on the details of the Department of Homeland Security’s new proposed regulation, which expands the definition of “public charge.” The new rule, should it go into effect, would make it more difficult for some low- and moderate-income persons to immigrate to the United States or attain Legal Permanent Resident status. The agency is accepting comments on the proposed regulation until December 10th. The following link from CLASP provides additional information about the Public Charge issue and how to submit comments: https://www.clasp.org/sites/default/files/publications/2018/04/2018_publiccharge.pdf.
  • Communications: The Commission discussed ways to increase understanding and awareness of the work of the Commission and the work of other organizations in Massachusetts in order to solicit engagement across the state and encourage cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Additional Updates: Commissioner Elizabeth Ennen presented findings from the ABA’s recent report on pro bono engagement among attorneys across the United States and on the efforts of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.
  • Access to Justice Fellows Kick-Off: Following the Commission meeting, the ATJ Fellows Program Kick-Off Event took place in the Supreme Judicial Courtroom and was followed by a reception in the Conference Suite. As of this fall, there have been 113 Access to Justice Fellows, serving almost 70 nonprofits, legal service organizations, and the courts. 


Our next meeting will take place on December 13th, 2018 in Social Law Library at the Adams Courthouse from 3:00 – 5: 00 pm. We hope to see you there!