• Members of the Association meet for a networking dinner at the Publick House in Sturbridge before a most informative evening panel discussion of Opioid Litigation
Municipal Law News

Deirdre Roney – Rest in Peace – December 17, 2017

From James B. Lampke, Executive Director of MMLA

Dear Colleagues, as many of you know from a prior sad email alert from the MMLA, Deirdre Roney, General Counsel to the State Ethics Commission and a great friend and guiding light to local municipal counsel, announced on Facebook, in most brave and moving prose, that she was terminally ill with breast cancer.  Many of our members reached out to her in visits, email, cards and just supportive thoughts. It is with further sadness that we let you know that Deirdre did pass away December 17th.  Many of you may have already heard this, but we were waiting for further information about arrangements before sending out another email. We know she found great comfort in that outpouring of love and friendship. A memorial service will be held this Thursday, December 28, 2017, 11:00 AM. to 1:00 PM, at the Forsyth Chapel at Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Avenue, in Jamaica Plain, Boston.  [Obituary]

As noted below, the format will be storytelling, mostly with emphasis on stories no one has heard, some of which are quite funny. Participants will be offered the chance to speak, in 5-minute segments, and you are encouraged to.  There will be some moments of silence at the end to honor all those who have passed whom participants wish to remember.  There will be room for many in a beautiful chapel, and all are welcome, but we are also aware that for many this next week is one of the few times they may meet in their own families.

The family has asked that donations in Deirdre’s name be sent to  the Deirdre Roney Memorial Research Fund addressed to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Development Office, 10 Brookline Place, Brookline, MA 02445.    [See Obituary – reprinted from Boston Globe]

MMLA urges you to read the 3 attachments to this message [See Attachments below] which were sent out by her family.  As sad as they are, they help remind us of what an amazing woman Deirdre was.  They are very moving.  Please feel free to share this email with anyone you feel would want to know.

To our dear friend Deirdre, many thanks for being the person you were.  In your passing, as in your life, we have learned so much from you and not just about the law.  Be in peace.  To Deirdre’s family and friends, may her memory be a blessing for her family and friends.

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Superior Court Reverses AG on Open Meeting Law Violation – Hull v. Maura Healey, AG

Ruling in favor of the Town of Hull on Cross Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings in Town of Hull v Attorney General, Plymouth Superior Court No. 1583CV00161, the Superior Court In a judgment entered on December 18, 2017 reversed an Open Meeting Law violation finding by the Attorney General’s Office against the Hull Board of Selectmen.     The AG’s Office had found, among other things, a violation of the OML when the Hull Board of Selectmen, while using the correct language for the motion, failed to sufficiently identify the names of the unions and claimants which were to be discussed in the executive session.   The Town did not name them as doing so would compromise the purpose of the executive session.  The Superior Court found that the AG’s Office’s interpretation that such details were necessary was not found in the statute and in essence imposed an additional requirement not in the law.  The Court remanded the matter back to the AG’s Office for further review consistent with the opinion.  You can read the full decision by clicking on the following link:  Hull v.Healey, AG

Appeals Court: Michael Dell’Isola vs. State Board of Retirement

KeywordsRetirement. Public Employment, Forfeiture of pension. Correction Officer

“Michael Dell’Isola was a correction officer when he committed the crime of possession of cocaine.  The State Retirement Board (board) subsequently conducted a hearing and made factual findings that Dell’Isola came into possession of the cocaine only as a result of an arrangement with an inmate who had been in his custody and who at the time remained in the custody of the Middlesex County sheriff’s office.  This case thus requires us to consider whether, pursuant to G. L. c. 32, § 15(4), Dell’Isola’s conviction requires forfeiture of his retirement allowance. General Laws c. 32, § 15(4), inserted by St. 1987, c. 697, § 47, provides that “[i]n no event shall any member [of the State employees’ retirement system] after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position, be entitled to receive a retirement allowance.”  Because how Dell’Isola came into possession of the cocaine was factually linked to his position as a correction officer, we hold that his criminal offense falls within the purview of § 15(4) and he is ineligible to receive a retirement allowance.”  For the full text of the decision, click on the following link:  MICHAEL DELL’ISOLA vs. STATE RETIREMENT BOARD

Appeals Court: State Board of Retirement vs. Brian O’Hare

Keywords:  Retirement. Public Employment, Forfeiture of pension, Police. Police, Regulations. Police Officer. State Police. 

“Brian O’Hare was a sergeant with the Massachusetts State police when he committed the Federal crime of using the internet to entice a person under eighteen to engage in unlawful sexual activity, a charge to which he subsequently pleaded guilty.  This case presents the question whether the State Board of Retirement (board) correctly ordered forfeiture of O’Hare’s retirement allowance under G. L. c. 32, § 15(4). . . .  General Laws c. 32, § 15(4), inserted by St. 1987, c. 697, § 47, provides that ‘[i]n no event shall any member [of the State employees’ retirement system] after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position, be entitled to receive a retirement allowance.’  Because we hold that O’Hare’s actions had a direct legal link to his position with the State police, we conclude that O’Hare’s conviction required forfeiture pursuant to § 15.” – For the full text of the decision, click on the following link:   State Board of Retirement vs. Brian O’Hare

Appeals Court: Worcester Regional Retirement Board vs. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board

KeywordsContributory Retirement Appeal Board. County, Retirement board. Municipal Corporations, Retirement board, Pensions. Public Employment, Retirement, Retirement benefits. Retirement. Pension.

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in Worcester Regional Retirement Board v Contributory Retirement Appeal Board in which it affirmed a CRAB decision.  CRAB “require[ed] the WRRB to permit a former member to purchase nine additional months of creditable service. At issue is whether the WRRB is responsible for not having enrolled the employee, Brian Pierce, as of the day he became eligible for membership, or whether Pierce had an affirmative obligation to ensure that he had been enrolled as of his start date.  CRAB determined that the responsibility lay with the WRRB, not the employee; that the retirement system records should be corrected to reflect Pierce’s nine months of uncredited membership; and that Pierce should be permitted to buy back the time of which he had erroneously been deprived.  Discerning no legal error or abuse of discretion on CRAB’s part, we affirm.”  For the full text of the decision click on:  Worcester Regional Retirement Board v Contributory Retirement Appeal Board.

SJC: 135 Wells Avenue, LLC. v. HAC and Newton ZBA

KeywordsMunicipal Corporations, Property, Use of municipal property. Real Property, Deed, Restrictions. Housing. Zoning, Housing appeals committee, Low and moderate income housing, Board of appeals: jurisdiction. Permit

The SJC on direct appellate review upheld the Appeals Court and the Newton Zoning Board of Appeals, confirming that the negative easement held by the city was “a property interest in land,” and that the HAC does not have authority to modify that interest.  The decision goes on to decline to determine “that the purposes for which the restrictive covenant was enacted are now incapable of being attained, and, consequently, that the restrictive covenant should be declared null and void.”  The lower court’s judgment on the pleadings was affirmed. For the full text of the decision go to:   135 Wells Avenue, LLC. v. HAC and Newton ZBA

SJC: LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE vs. COURT ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TRIAL COURT

KeywordsMoot Question. Practice, Civil, Moot case. Trial Court. Public Records

The SJC today issued its decision in Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights & Economic Justice v. Court Administrator, et al in which it upheld a Single Justice’s dismissal of the case which sought a court order that the Trial Court produce certain records (thus affirming the Superior Court) as the Public Records Law does not apply to the judiciary, and the issue in any event became moot when the Court provided what documents it had that were responsive to the so-called public records request.  For the full text of the case, click on the following link: LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE vs. COURT ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TRIAL

MMLA Mourns the Passing of a Dear Friend and Mentor to Many – David J. Fenton, Sr.

November 1, 2017 – One of our Association’s best friends and long-time role model for many passed away on November 1st. David J. Fenton, Sr. labored long in the vineyards of the Lowell City Attorney’s office, but always made himself available to his peers in municipal law to discuss legal matters or just enjoy professional friendship. He graced our professional assemblies with his cheerful wit and insightful observations. He was a former president of MMLA. He will be much missed.

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