Foiled! Letters Blogatory Turned Away At The Statehouse

There was a hearing today before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary of the Massachusetts legislature regarding the Uniform Foreign Court Money Judgment Act, which Massachusetts may adopt. The bill was introduced at the start of the current legislative session. I couldn’t attend the hearing, so I called the Committee’s offices to ask whether I could have a copy of the testimony. Here’s a summary of my phone call with a staffer.

Question: Can I have a copy of the testimony?

Answer: There is no video, and the testimony is not transcribed.

Question: Did witnesses provide prepared remarks in advance of the hearing?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I get a copy of those?

Answer: No.

Question: Why not?

Answer: They are not within the scope of the Massachusetts Public Records Law (our equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act).

Question (to myself, not to the staffer): So what? Just because you don’t have to give me copies doesn’t mean you can’t.

Question (to the staffer): Can I get a list of the witnesses who testified?

Answer: No.

This is ridiculous. I hope those of you who live in Massachusetts will take a minute to call your representatives and senators and tell them that legislative committees should work transparently. It’s as though this hearing dropped down the memory hole.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

2 thoughts on “Foiled! Letters Blogatory Turned Away At The Statehouse

  1. This is very surprising. I live in Massachusetts and am the chair of our town’s planning board. All our proceedings are governed by the Open Meeting Law. This is certainly not the attitude you would encounter from our municipal employees here.

    1. The legislature, in its wisdom, has exempted itself from the Open Meeting Law and the Public Records Law. Check out the discussion on Blue Mass Group here and here. I am on the warpath and trying to push for change on this issue. Stay tuned.

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