Annual Survey, Upcoming Programs, and Summer Reading

Annual Survey: Later this month you will receive a copy of our annual survey. Please take the time to fill it out online. The survey results are carefully reviewed by the Board of Trustees and used to make decisions about how to improve the services we provide to judges, including the programs and author talks to be offered during the next year and the books we commission judges to write. We also invite you to include the title of a book you’ve read this year that you would recommend to your colleagues as part of their summer reading (and a brief word about it if you can). We will circulate the list of book recommendations by judges after the surveys are returned.

Upcoming Programs: June is another month with a variety of programs to choose from:

Thursday, June 9th, 2-4 p.m (Zoom). Flaschner is co-sponsoring the Justice Harry J. Elam Judicial Conference’s Virtual Spring Conference 2022, featuring Guest Speaker, Mr. Thomas Koonce, recipient of first-degree murder commutation from Gov. Charlie Baker and a panel discussion on “Race and the 4th Amendment: Challenges for the Trial Judges.” Panelists include Professors Deborah Ramirez (Northeastern Law) and Aliza Hochman Bloom (New England Law) with Ret. Justice Barbara Dortch-Okara as a moderator. For more information, visit our website at: or email:

Monday, June 13th, 4-6 p.m (Zoom). Flaschner is co-sponsoring the Social Law Library’s program on State Constitutional Law. This program features SJC Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker, author of “State Constitutional Law Declares Its Independence: Double Protecting Rights During a Time of Federal Constitutional Upheaval,” soon to be published in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Judge Mark Coven, author of “The Common Law as a Guide to State Constitutional Interpretation,” 54 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 279 (2021), Robert Brink, Esq., Executive Director of the SLL, Elizabeth “Bessie” Dewar, Esq., Massachusetts State Solicitor, Office of the A.G. and Rebecca Kiley, Esq. Chief Appellate Attorney, CPCS. For more information, visit our website at: or email:

Wednesday, June 22, 2-5 p.m. Emerging Issues in Neuroscience for Judges (free online course offered by the National Judicial College) Experts from the field of neuroscience will provide up-to-date, science-backed insights related to the role of judges in the following areas:

  • The Neuroscience of Memory, by Dr. C. Stark (University of California, Irvine)
  • The Neuroscience of Aggression, by Dr. R. D. Fields (University of Maryland)
  • The Neuroscience of Brain Development, by Dr. L. Sommerville (Harvard University)
  • The Neuroscience of Addiction, by Dr. J. Grisel (Bucknell University)

There is no cost for judges and judicial educators to participate. Register here:

Thursday, June 23rd. Evidence: You Be The Judge. A live, full day Flaschner program at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington. Topics and presenters as follows:

  • Improvisation and Variations on Expert Testimony – Hon. David Lowy
  • Proceedings in which the Rules of Evidence are Relaxed – Hon. Beverly Cannone
  • Evidence Admitted for Non-Hearsay Purposes – Hon. Peter Agnes
  • Virtual Hearings: When and How To Conduct – Ben Golden, Esq.
  • Preliminary Questions, Conditional Relevance, and the Roles of the Judge and Jury – Hon. Gregory Massing
  • Victims and Witnesses Behaving Badly – Elizabeth Mulvey, Esq.
  • Significant Evidence Cases for 2021 – Hon. Mark Coven

For more information, visit our website at: or email:

Reference Material: The National Human Genome Research Institute has released a new and improved “Talking Glossary of Genomic and Genetic Terms.” First launched in 1998, the talking glossary is one of the most visited sites on Some of the talking glossary’s terms receive over 70,000 views per month. This resource is filled with definitions, audio recordings, and illustrations for hundreds of terms. It is one of the premier educational resources offered by NHGRI, and it aims to help users better understand the basics of genomics and genetics. Here is the link:

Summer Reading: I look forward to receiving your recommendations for summer reading. In the meantime, I just finished a book that I think you will enjoy. The title is “The Personal Librarian” and the authors are Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher. This is a work of historical fiction inspired by true events about the life and times of one of the most extraordinary women of the twentieth century, Belle da Costa Greene, born Belle Marion Greener. Ms. Greene was an African-American woman who spent her adult life passing as a white woman. As a very young woman working in the Library at Princeton University, she successfully competed for the position of personal librarian to J.P. Morgan and in that capacity built the extraordinary collection of art and manuscripts that made his collection one of the greatest private collections in the world. She also became an international celebrity. She was regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the world on fine art and rare books. Following the death of J.P. Morgan in 1913, Ms. Green continued as the librarian for J.P.’s son, Jack Morgan. In 1924, she was named the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, the public library that arose from J.P. Morgan’s private collections.

Books can lead us in many directions and the Personal Librarian is just such a book. Readers will be taken on a journey around the world and will learn that Ms. Greene’s father was Richard Theodore Greener the first black person to graduate from Harvard University who had a distinguished career as an attorney, law professor, Dean of Howard University Law School, and civil rights activist. Ms. Greene’s mother was Genevieve Ida Fleet, an accomplished music teacher and member of a prominent African-American family in Washington, D.C. Both parents are woven into the story of the life and times of Ms. Greene.

That’s all I will give away about this engrossing and very timely book. Read it if you can and you will be rewarded.

Hon. Peter W. Agnes, Jr. (ret.)
CEO, Flaschner Judicial Institute

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