SJC Advisory Opinion March 28, 2012


The legal team of the Worcester-based law firm of 339 Main St., Worcester, MA were successful in their recent representation of the Governor’s Council on Governor Deval Patrick’s request for an advisory opinion to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Governor had sought guidance from the Court on whether he had to be physically present to preside over an assembly of the Council in order for the Lieutenant Governor to cast a vote on matters before the Council.

The Court agreed with the position of a majority of the Governor’s Council that was persuasively advanced. The Court concluded that the plain language of the Massachusetts Constitution required that the Governor be present at Council meetings in order for the Lieutenant Governor to cast a vote. The Court specifically held “[w]here the Lieutenant Governor is president of the Executive Council because the Governor is absent from the Council chamber, the Lieutenant Governor remains a member of the Council but may not vote on matters of advice and consent until the Governor returns to preside over the Council.”

Recently, the Governor’s Council voted to nominate Councillor Jen Caissie (7th District) as their point person to select a law firm to represent the Council on this issue. Caissie selected to represent of the Council. In response to the SJC’s decision, Caissie said “This decision is a victory for all of the people of Massachusetts. The decision clearly recognized and upheld the delicate checks and balances in the judicial confirmation process and the roles the Governor’s Council and the Governor are supposed to play. Our Founding Fathers are smiling upon this decision. Judge Greenberg and his team are to be commended for their rigorous efforts in seeing this issue decided in a manner that honors and respects the Massachusetts Constitution.” The firm’s legal team was led by the Hon. Mel Greenberg (Ret.), a retired Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court who has been practicing with the firm since 2007.