The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association is honored to announce that retiring Supreme Judicial Court Justice John M. Greaney will address its annual luncheon Dec. 5. Justice Greaney, who retires from the bench Nov. 30, has played a special role in helping to improve the relationship between the courts and the news media, having been co-chair of the SJC’s Judiciary-Media Committee since its establishment in 1995. Upon his retirement, Justice Greaney will join the Suffolk University Law School faculty and serve as director of the Macaronis Institute for Trial and Appellate Advocacy housed at Suffolk.
As a justice on the highest appellate court in Massachusetts, Justice Greaney authored numerous significant opinions on a range of important issues, including several of importance to the news media. He served in the military and engaged in private practice before joining the judiciary in 1974 as the presiding judge of the Hampden County Housing Court. He later served as a justice the Massachusetts Superior Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He was chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court before his appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court.
He has taught law at Western New England College Law School and Westfield State College; lectured and written extensively for continuing legal and judicial education programs; edited books on the law of deceptive and unfair practices and appellate practice and procedure; and co-authored books on civil jury instructions and summary judgment.
Justice Greaney received his bachelor’s degree with honors in 1960 from the College of the Holy Cross, and his law degree in 1963 from New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden scholar and chairperson of the Annual Survey of American Law. He has received the Robert B. MacKay and Public Service Awards from N.Y.U. School of Law, the Haskell Cohn Distinguished Judicial Service Award from the Boston Bar Association, Western New England College’s Presidential Medallion, and the Massachusetts Judges Conference President’s Award for Judicial Excellence.
The annual luncheon begins at noon on Dec. 5 at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston. Prior to the luncheon at 11 a.m., a panel of lawyers and editors will discuss the legal and practical issues surrounding blogs and comments on newspaper-hosted Web sites. To register for the meeting, download the 2008 registration form.
From the March 23 Cape Cod Times, Sunshine law could see brighter days:
“When someone complains that a local official has violated the state’s Open Meeting Law, it’s up to the district attorney to investigate.
“That leads to different interpretations of the law all over the state, and there is a lack of enforcement provisions built in, said Robert Ambrogi, executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers’ Association.”
Read the rest of the story.
The town of Charlton’s ad hoc Water Search Subcommittee violated the Massachusetts open meeting law when it met in a series of unposted meetings, the Worcester District Attorney’s Office has ruled. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the meetings came to light after the newspaper filed a public records request for the subcommittee’s minutes. Upon learning of the illegal meetings, the newspaper filed a complaint with the DA.
Part 4 of The Republican’s Sunshine Week series: Public records allow scrutiny:
“It happens all the time.
“The tenants complain about conditions in their apartment, a city inspection follows, and a notice of violations is mailed to the property owner demanding compliance.
“Landlord Anthony Ping Zuo, of the affluent suburb of Weston, however, found himself under the added scrutiny of The Republican – triggered by a wide-open paper trail that would link Zuo to hundreds of code violations in buildings across the region, and beyond.”
Read the rest of the story.
From the Brookline Tab: Brookline passes public records test, but response reveals bookkeeping lapse“
“On a test of public records law compliance, Brookline passed with flying colors.
“But the test revealed something as well: The town has been paying for a cell phone Town Administrator Richard Kelliher hasn’t used in years.”
Read the full story.
This was the front-page article on Sunday’s Cape Cod Times: Political candidates have spotty voting records:
“Raymond Hall may ask Dennis residents to do something May 13 that he rarely does — vote.
“Hall is one of three people who have taken out nomination papers to run for selectman. A review of state election records indicate that the last and only Dennis election Hall voted in was in 2004, and he has never checked in to a town meeting, according to records. He’s voted a total of six times since 2000.”
Here is a PDF of Sunday’s front page.cctA01031698.pdf
Two Sunshine Week graphics from the pages of this week’s Cape Cod Times (PDF):
Your Right to Records and How to Get Them.
Top Secret, a graphical page that ran in place of the paper’s typical editorial page.
From the Cape Cod Times: Governor says e-mails off-limits:
Gov. Deval Patrick holds the most conspicuous job in state government, but his records are above public inspection.
While the state’s Public Records Law does not expressly exempt the governor’s papers from outside scrutiny, as it does those of the Legislature or the judiciary, recent chief executives have taken solace in a 1997 Supreme Judicial Court decision saying that because the executive branch is not expressly mentioned in the state’s Public Records Law, it should be exempt from it.
Read the full story. See this issue’s front page in PDF format.
From yesterday’s Cape Cod Times: Let the sunshine in:
“This is the beginning of Sunshine Week. We’re not talking weather. We’re referring to the state and federal climate related to open government. In both cases, it’s mighty chilly.
“In Massachusetts, the cradle of democracy, the current open meeting law is one of the most restrictive in the nation. It gives boards of selectmen and other governing bodies too many excuses to discuss important public policy issues in executive session.”
Read the rest.
The third in The Republican’s Sunshine Week series: Towns develop online presence.
“Brimfield residents can learn plenty about their town’s volunteer fire department by going online to www.brimfieldfd.org, but they won’t find a Web site to keep them up to date on how their town government operates.
“That could change soon. The Board of Selectmen is moving, cautiously, toward getting a town government Web site started.”
Read the full story.