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Bar News - March 22, 2017

Midyear Meeting: New Science, New Questions


Forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee has worked on some of the world’s most heinous crimes over the past 50 years. At the NH Bar Association Midyear Meeting, his presentation demonstrated that levity is an important ingredient in solving mysteries.

Tufts researcher Keith Maddox, along with Samual Sommers, presents the afternoon CLE on implicit bias at the 2017 NHBA Midyear Meeting.

Marcia Brown, chair of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee, and Charla Stevens of McLane Middleton, join GEC award recipient and breakfast event speaker Joe Keefe, CEO of Portsmouth-based Pax World, and Judge Philip Hollman, the namesake of the GEC’s annual equality award.

NHBA President-elect Scott Harris and immediate past president Mary Tenn with Chief Judge Joseph Laplante, recipient of the NHBA Distinguished Service to the Public Award.

Larry Vogelman and Kirk Simoneau of Manchester share a laugh at the Honors and Awards Luncheon during the Midyear Meeting.

Mark Larsen, Tony Sculimbrene, Jeanne Herrick and John Newman stop for a photo while catching up during an exhibitor break at the 2017 NHBA Midyear Meeting on March 10 in Manchester. Sculimbrene helped organize and served as emcee for part of the CLE programming at the event.

Learning about the latest developments in brain science or forensic technology might not turn a tough case into a slam dunk, but it can help attorneys in various practice settings look at things differently.

That seemed to be the view of many of the more than 500 New Hampshire attorneys and judges who attended the 2017 NH Bar Association Midyear Meeting on March 10 at the Radisson/Center of New Hampshire in Manchester. The meeting featured a full day of continuing legal education seminars about the intersections of science and law, along with annual award presentations, the Gender Equality Breakfast and the NH Bar Foundation Fellows and Donors Reception (see related story).

NH Bar Association President-elect Scott Harris of the McLane Middleton firm said he was glad the Midyear Meeting could bring together so many New Hampshire attorneys and judges.

“We appreciated the tremendous turnout by both bench and bar and believe this interesting and unifying event was one the membership really enjoyed,” Harris said. “Each of the speakers contributed valuable insights that I think will allow us to sharpen our practice and change how we look at things in our efforts to achieve justice.”

CLE presenters dove deep into their respective areas of scientific inquiry, at times leaving their attorney audience drowning in jargon – an experience perhaps akin to that of some non-lawyers attempting to decipher legalese.

“I thought it was extremely interesting,” said Mike Iacopino, a criminal defense attorney at the Brennan Lenehan law firm in Manchester. “It’s a challenge to bring it down to the practice level, though. I thought I knew what a biomarker was, but I wasn’t really sure. And I noticed no one really defined that…” (Hint: a biomarker is a measurable substance in an organism whose presence is indicative of some phenomenon such as disease, infection, or environmental exposure.)

Rachel Yehuda, director of trauma studies at the medical school at Mount Sinai, presented her research, which suggests some trauma survivors experience physical changes that can be detected using certain biomarkers, such as the stress hormone cortisol. With further research, science might be able to predict the probability that a person exposed to trauma will experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or that he or she will respond to treatment.

Another presenter, Tor Wager, discussed advancements in the study of pain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI testing can provide information, such as detecting hypersensitivity or allodynia (Hint: Allodynia refers to central pain sensitization (increased response of neurons) following normally non-painful, often repetitive, stimulation), but because people experience pain differently, “we can’t use it as a pain lie-detector,” Wager explained, disappointing at least a few trial attorneys.

Tufts researchers Sam Sommers and Keith Maddox performed a demonstration of the Implicit Associations Test (, developed by researchers to show how social categorization can lead to unconscious bias. Their stated goal was to increase understanding about the foundation of judgments and to highlight contexts that make the use of stereotypes more likely, such as those involving ambiguity, subjective judgements, frequent distractions, or feeling threatened or insecure. Stereotypes “represent a shortcut, and when you’re threatened or you feel insecure, you want to figure out a way to quickly act and react,” said Maddox.

Dr. Henry Lee, one of the world’s foremost forensic scientists, regaled attendees with insider stories about investigations at crime scenes (“where one person works, and everyone else watches”) in some of the most famous cases of the last half-century. From the Brown’s Chicken massacre in Chicago to the Michael Peterson case, Lee talked about solving mysteries (Hint: A piece of chicken in the garbage can eventually led police to the perpetrator of the Brown’s Chicken massacre, years after Lee suggested the chicken was a crucial piece of evidence).

Many members of the state and federal bench, including retired US Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and four NH Supreme Court justices, attended the Midyear Meeting Honors and Awards Luncheon. Chief Judge Joseph Laplante, of the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire; Judge Robert Varney (ret., NH Circuit Court); Maureen O’Neill, clerk of Rockingham County Superior Court; and David Rothstein of the NH Public Defender, received awards at the luncheon. The Pro Bono Referral Program at the NH Bar Association also presented awards to dedicated program volunteers (see photos).

As usual, the Gender Equality Breakfast, on the morning of the Midyear Meeting, was well attended by bench and bar leaders. Joe Keefe, CEO of Portsmouth-based investment firm Pax World, received the 2017 Phillip S. Hollman Equality Award, in recognition of his efforts to promote investment in women-run businesses and those with boardroom diversity.

In his keynote remarks, Keefe encouraged the use of proxy ballots to oppose corporate board candidate slates that include fewer than two women. Research has shown that more diverse boards perform better, and that translates to a stronger economy. “By allowing these inequalities to exist, the global economy essentially has one arm tied behind its back… every single person in this room is poorer because of gender inequality,” Keefe said.

Marcia Brown, chair of the NH Bar Association Gender Equality Committee, gave an overview of the committee’s successes, future goals and continuing efforts to raise awareness and sharpen skills surrounding gender equality in New Hampshire’s legal community.

Also at the event, Jennifer Parent of McLane Middleton announced the sale of tickets ($55 each) to a June 1 dinner event in Concord, to celebrate 100 years of women in the NH Bar Association (buy online).

Maureen O’Neill, clerk of the Rockingham County Superior Court, accepts the Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award.

Judge Robert Varney, recipient of the Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service, shakes hands with Harris on stage.

David Rothstein, deputy director of the NH Public Defender, receives a special president’s award from President-elect Scott Harris.

Judge Susan Carbon stops to talk to an exhibitor during a break at the Midyear Meeting, held March 10 in Manchester. The event featured 22 exhibitors and two breakfast co-sponsors.

Thank You, Midyear Meeting Exhibitors & Sponsors

Breakfast Co-Sponsors

AA Dority
ABA Retirement
Advanced Resources Marketing
Exchange Authority
Fournier Accounting & Bookkeeping Services
Arthur Greene Consulting
Joe T Realtor
Law Pay
NHBA Insurance Agency
NH Women’s Bar Association
Robson Forensic
Seacoast Business Machines
Service Credit Union

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