This Note explores the current practice of lobby conferences in Massachusetts district courts. At these proceedings, attorneys meet with the judge in chambers, without the defendant and off the record. The attorneys and the judge make one last attempt to settle the case before proceeding to trial. Court officials rely on the lack of record in lobby conferences to foster the type of candid discussion between the attorneys and the judge they believe to be necessary for efficient disposition of cases. As this Note examines the reasons why lobby conferences have a unique role in district courts, it also highlights how the lack of record makes it nearly impossible for indigent criminal defendants to hold their attorneys accountable for anything that happens at these proceedings. This Note argues that mandating recording of lobby conferences will be circumvented by the courts. Instead, appellate courts must recognize the inherent conflict of interest and change how they treat ineffective assistance of counsel claims that arise in the context of lobby conferences.
In the Name of Efficiency: How the Massachusetts District Courts are Lobbying Away the Constitutional Rights of Indigent Defendants,
B.C. Third World L.J.