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November 2015 Archives

Alternative Dispute Resolution In Massachusetts: What Is Conciliation?

Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:18 encompasses the Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution ("Rules"). The Rules govern court-connected dispute resolution services provided in civil and criminal cases in the Commonwealth's trial courts. One of the express purposes of the Rules is to "foster innovation" in the delivery of court-connected dispute resolution services. Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process offered in many of the Commonwealth's Probate & Family Courts, and in some District and Superior Courts.

Appeals Court Holds That Easements Provide Access To Landlocked Parcels

The Court of Appeals recently issued an interesting decision, Kitras v. Town of Aquinnah, 87 Mass. App. Ct. 10 (2015), concerning easements and accessibility rights to parcels of land owned in the late 1800s by members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Martha's Vineyard. The parcels in question had been part of a larger tract of land owned by the Tribe in common ownership. In the 1870s, members of the Tribe petitioned the Court to partition, or divide, the land into individual parcels which were then given to individual Tribe members to be held in severalty. Many of the parcels that resulted from that division were landlocked. At the time the land was partitioned, provisions were not made for easements that would provide a right of access to those landlocked parcels. Over a century later, the owners of the landlocked parcels brought an action asking the Court to declare that the parcels of land had access easements across neighboring lots.

Division Of Banks Told That Hearings Are Not Optional

A Superior Court judge recently expressed little patience with the Massachusetts Division of Banks's (the "Division's") failure to hold a hearing prior to issuing cease and desist letters, calling it "disturbing" that two statutes requiring hearings "were completely ignored by an absolutist and overbearing executive department."

Judge Vacates Major League Baseball Arbitral Award

As this blog has chronicled in the past, it is extremely difficult for an arbitral award to be vacated. The Federal Arbitration Act and many state arbitral acts provide very limited grounds for vacatur, as courts are reluctant to second-guess an arbitrator's decision. Indeed, courts have even refused to vacate awards when the arbitrator erred in his application of the law. Even a "grave error" made by the arbitrator is insufficient to vacate an award, as it is not amongst the grounds for vacating a decision.

Appeals Court Articulates Standard For Barring Contact Between Children And Third Parties In Divorce Cases

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently issued a decision in a divorce case called Jankovich v. Jankovich.  It was a Rule 1:28 decision, which is primarily directed to the parties and, therefore, may not fully address the facts of the case or the appellate panel's decisional rationale.  Rule 1:28 decisions are not circulated to the entire Appeals Court, and, therefore, represent only the views of the panel that decided the case.  Also, such a decision may be cited for its persuasive value but, because of the limitations noted above, not as binding precedent.  Still, this particular case addresses the issue of children's access to third parties, which we as family lawyers often encounter in contested divorce cases.  

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