Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs
Programs and Events 2001 - 2002
By Arthur D. Wolf, Director
Sixth Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
Professors Harpaz, Herbert, Miller, and Wolf focused on four noteworthy areas of the Court's jurisprudence during the October Term, 2000.
Professor Harpaz offered her analysis of and perspectives on the First Amendment cases, Professor Herbert concentrated on the Fourth Amendment decisions involving search and seizure, and Professor Miller focused on the federalism opinions, especially the Court's expanding state power at the expense of federal authority. Finally, Professor Wolf explored the immigration cases, noting the reluctance of the Court to allow Congress to cut off judicial review in alien cases or to permit the Attorney General to detain aliens indefinitely.
Hearing of the Joint Committee of the Judiciary on Uniform Probate Code
With the assistance of Representative Gale D. Candaras '82 (D-Wilbraham), the Joint Committee on the Judiciary conducted hearings on H. 1042 and S. 877, bills to adopt the Uniform Probate Code in Massachusetts. Representative David Donnelly (10th Suffolk), House chair of the Joint Committee, stated that the adoption of the UPC would accomplish two primary and laudable objectives. "First, the UPC is designed to increase significantly the efficiency of the entire probate system by eliminating archaic, confusing, and time consuming procedures and evidentiary burdens, some of which date back to colonial days," he noted. "Second, under the UPC, attorneys should be able to serve their clients better and more economically by relying on a standard, more logical body of rules," the Chairman added.
Senator Robert S. Creedon Jr. (2nd Plymouth and Bristol), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee, expressed his hope that the probate bar would participate actively with the Committee to determine whether the UPC should be adopted. "We really need to hear how these revisions will affect everyone who works daily with these issues," he stated.
Seminar on Choosing the Digital Future
In late October, through the efforts of Professor Sam Stonefield and Dean Arthur Gaudio, the Institute co-sponsored "Choosing the Digital Future: The Use and Recording of Electronic Real Estate Instruments in New England and New York," a program to discuss the feasibility of a system for electronic filing of real estate documents. We were pleased to have three principal sponsors of the program: CATIC, First American Title Insurance Company, and Bulkley, Richardson & Gelinas, L.L.P., a Springfield law firm.
With Professor Stonefield serving as the principal organizer, the seminar brought together professionals from a variety of areas of real estate practice in New England and New York, including registry of deeds personnel, closing attorneys, real property scholars, and others. The conference included demonstrations of how such a system would work. Prior to his coming to the Law School, Dean Gaudio had served as a consultant to the Iowa Legislature to help draft legislation to authorize electronic filing. He used an audio/visual presentation at lunch to identify the challenges such a system presents. We were honored to have Justice John M. Greaney of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court introduce the proceedings.
Simulation Class in Legislation
In the fall of 2001, the director of the Institute offered a simulation class in Legislation. Through consultation with members of the State Legislature, he identified ten topics for research, writing, and drafting projects. The students divided into six working groups, addressing these areas of possible legislative change: election reform in the wake of the 2000, election; use of cell phones by automobile drivers; amendments to the domestic abuse prevention statute; keeping dogs in residential neighborhoods; bail reform; and regulating the use of exotic animals in traveling shows. The students researched these topics, drafted bills, and prepared and presented testimony before a simulated committee of the Massachusetts legislature. When available, the Director likes to invite members of the State Legislature to discuss their roles and functions with students.
Springfield Mayoral Debate
The Institute assisted Western New England University's Director of College Relations/Community Outreach Brenda Garton in her organization and presentation of the principal debate in the 2000 Springfield mayoral election between incumbent Mayor Michael Albano and challenger State Representative Paul Caron.
Seminar on Women in Politics
The Institute and the Women's Bar Association hosted a seminar on "Women in Politics," featuring five prominent Massachusetts elected officials: State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, State Representatives Gale D. Candaras '82, Mary Rogeness, and Cheryl Rivera, and Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins. The five women discussed the avenues that brought them to elected offices, and the strategies and energies that women must bring to such endeavors, both before and after election.
Continuing Legal Education Programs
A major feature of the Institute's agenda this year was the presentation of CLE seminars for members of the bar. With the cooperation of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the four western Massachusetts bar associations, the Institute has been able to bring these programs to the School of Law with discounted rates for Western New England University graduates and current students. The School of Law faculty has also played major roles in these presentations. So far this year, we have presented two CLE programs: "Residential Real Estate Closings: How the Process Works," and "How to Probate an Estate." This spring we plan to present additional CLE seminars relating to medical malpractice and operating under the influence, again utilizing the knowledge and talents of our faculty and members of the bench and bar.
Symposium on The Bush Administration and the Environment: A One-Year Retrospective and Predictions for the Next Three Years
Professor Robin Craig organized a symposium that explored the impact of President Bush's environmental policies. The panelists seemed to agree that: New England is less likely to feel the effects of the change in Administration than other parts of the country because state law provides equal or greater protection of the environment than federal law; the most significant effect of the change for New England will probably be relaxed air emission standards for power plants in the mid-West, which will continue to affect adversely air quality here; and nationwide, endangered species protection stands the best chance of being gutted, especially with respect to lands owned by the military.
Conference on Welfare Reform
Professors Bruce Miller, Harris Freeman '93, and Lauren Carasik, together with the Pioneer Valley Labor Council, convened a conference on the rights of low-income workers without benefits, and the workplace rights of aliens. Linda Chavez-Thompson, national vice-president of the AFL-CIO, was the keynote speaker and Professor Frances Fox Priven (CUNY), author of Regulating the Poor, and professor Lucy Williams (Northeastern Law School), were the principal presenters. The conference covered a wide range of issues relating to low-income workers, including the application of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the reauthorization of the Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996.