We are very pleased to note that Attorney Paul DeRensis was reappointed by Governor Charlie Baker on February 13, 2018 to a tenth term as a member of the Massachusetts Local Government Advisory Commission. Former Governor Deval Patrick had initially appointed Mr. DeRensis to this Commission. Mr. Baker first reappointed Mr. DeRensis in February 2015. This is the fourth reappointment by Governor Baker. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito administered the oath of office on February 13, 2018.

Mr. DeRensis is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and is admitted to practice in New York and Massachusetts and in various federal courts including the United States Supreme Court.

State law provides that responsibilities of Commissioners include the following:

Paul DeRensis Being Sworn In“1. to review and analyze proposed legislation and regulatory changes from the point of view of municipal government and present such point of view to the governor, his executive secretaries and to the general court;

2. to act as an independent advocate for the interests of local governments in their relations with state and federal governments;

3. to advise officials of the commonwealth and the federal government on the needs of local governments, assist in mobilizing state and federal resources to deal with problems of local governments, provide coordinating support to agencies responsible for administering federal, state and local programs, and promote legislative and administrative proposals reflecting the interests of local governments;

4. to establish, from time to time, study committees or task forces to consider issues pertaining to local government in detail and to present the results of those considerations to the governor, the secretaries of his executive offices and to the general court;

5. to meet monthly with the governor and at such other times…;

6. to meet quarterly with the legislative leadership, and at such other times as may be necessary…”

Mr. DeRensis commented, “I am honored by this opportunity for public service, and will do my best to offer ideas and input to the Governor and his team that will help all of the communities of Massachusetts.”

Deutsch Williams is pleased to announce that Paul DeRensis was named in November 2014 as one of 2014’s New England Super Lawyers along with four other members of his firm, Deutsch Williams Brooks DeRensis & Holland, P.C.

Mr. DeRensis’ practice is concentrated in the area of municipal law, and he was one of only eleven lawyers in New England given recognition as a Super Lawyer in the state, local and municipal law category throughout the entire six state New England region.  Notably, this is the tenth time he has been so recognized, a record for this category.

Mr. DeRensis is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and is admitted to practice in New York and Massachusetts and in various federal courts including the United States Supreme Court.  He serves as Town Counsel to a number of Massachusetts municipalities.  Mr. DeRensis also has been appointed by the Governor to serve as Public Member of the State Board of Medicine.

Mr. DeRensis is a seven term incumbent selectman of a municipality and previously served as an elected member of a Municipal Planning Board and a Municipal Finance Committee/Advisory Committee.

November’s issue of Boston Magazine will contain the listing of New England Super Lawyers.  The list of 2014 Super Lawyers is assembled by Thomson Reuters in conjunction with Boston Magazine based on peer nominations by attorneys, independent research conducted by the Thomson Reuters research staff, and peer evaluations by practice area across the six New England states aimed at selecting as Super Lawyers the top 5 percent of New England attorneys in more than 60 practice areas and reflects both peer recognition and professional achievement verified through careful selection process to determine New England’s best.

At its Annual Law Day Dinner, the Boston Bar Association presented its President’s Award to nearly 70 attorneys who volunteered their time to provide legal assistance to small businesses and individual victims affected by the Marathon bombings.  Among the attorneys honored at the May 12 event were Deutsch Williams Principal Dan Deutsch and Retired Principal Peter Berry.  Keynote speaker for the gathering of 1,400 attorneys was Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Principal Attorney Rich Hucksam of the Municipal Law Department has won an appeal at the Appellate Tax Board concerning the valuation of a 35-lot residential subdivision in the Town of Carlisle.  The property owner claimed that the property should be valued as a bulk inventory of lots to be sold to a single purchaser and that the costs to construct the subdivision roadway and utilities should be deducted from the value of the property.  The Town’s Board of Assessors argued that the highest and best use of the subdivided property was as individual retail building lots for sale to multiple purchasers with no deduction for development costs.  The Appellate Tax Board’s decision in favor of the Board of Assessors preserves thousands of dollars of tax income for the Town and is an important precedent for the valuation of other residential subdivisions.

Deutsch Williams Litigation Principal Dan Deutsch has helped a long-standing municipal client defeat the only remaining appeal of its permit to construct a new, $80 million high school complex on the site of its existing campus.  Dan litigated the abutter’s evidentiary appeal before an Administrative Law Judge at the Department of Environmental Protection and subsequent appeal to Superior Court last year.  The court rejected plaintiff’s substantive objections as well as his efforts to further delay the project by remanding the matter back to the administrative tribunal.  Construction of the modern school campus is well underway.

In June, 2013, Mr. DeRensis was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as “Public Member” of the Board of Registration in Medicine (the Board which regulates and supervises the medical profession in Massachusetts) for the term 2013-2016.

We are pleased to announce that on May 23, 2012, Dan Deutsch was reappointed to the position of Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Appellate Advocacy General Committee for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Dan has held this position for several years. By contributing professional articles and newsletters, sponsoring continuing education seminars, and participating in national legal conferences, the Appellate Advocacy Committee promotes awareness of appellate law issues and provides resources to practitioners of appellate law and to judges of the country’s appellate courts.

In his letter informing Dan of the re-appointment, Dick A Semerdjian, Section Chair-Elect remarked, “This leadership appointment is in recognition of your professional abilities and reputation among some 25,000 TIPS members.” Dan has co-authored the Committee’s annual surveys of recent developments in appellate law, including detailed analysis of selected decisions of the United States Supreme Court, for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Terms. Those articles can be accessed through links on the News & Events page of the Deutsch Williams web site.

Deutsch Williams has counseled its municipal clients that Massachusetts procurement law does not require that a contract must always be awarded to the lowest bidder if the contractor’s performance on other projects was sub-standard.  We have successfully represented clients in actions on this issue, (see Weston & Sampson CMR v. Town of Foxborough, Norfolk Superior Court, motion for preliminary injunction against town, denied).  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has just issued its decision in the case of Barr Incorporated v. Town of Holliston that both confirms this advice and gives guidance to awarding authorities how to document a decision not to award a contract to the apparent low bidder because of that bidder’s lack of competence.

In the case, the Town of Holliston had bid a contract for the construction of a new police station under M.G.L. ch. 149.  Town officials reviewed the documents and files of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (“DCAM”) relating to the bidder, Barr Incorporated, as required by the law and applicable regulations.  This review raised questions about the bidder’s ability to perform and the town did further investigation.  This additional investigation indicated that the contractor had a history of unsatisfactory performance on most of its recent public construction projects.  The town determined that the apparent low bidder was not a “responsible” bidder within the meaning of the statute and awarded the contract to the next lowest bidder.  Barr sued, arguing that it was improper for the town to have investigated beyond the information in the DCAM files and documents.

In its decision in the Barr Incorporated case, the SJC stated that the town was obliged to award the contract to the “lowest responsible and eligible bidder” as required by statute.  It recited the statutory definition that, to be deemed to be “responsible”, a bidder must “…demonstrably possess…the skill, ability and integrity necessary to faithfully perform the work….”  To do make its evaluation, the town was obligated to review the DCAM files and documents.  However, the SJC said the town was not limited to that review and that the town’s additional investigation was an appropriate exercise of its authority as the awarding authority.  In response to the contractor’s argument that an investigation by an awarding authority that went beyond a review of the DCAM documents could lead to unfairness if a favored bidder received less scrutiny that a disfavored bidder, the SJC outlined the protections available to a disqualified bidder and gave guidance to awarding authorities how to document such a case.

The SJC decision in Barr Incorporated v. Town of Holliston is very helpful to municipalities acting as awarding authorities.  First, it confirms the principle that awarding authorities have significant discretion in reviewing bidders and awarding contracts.  Second, it also provides clear guidance on how to conduct any additional investigation of bidders and how to document finding so as to preserve the fundamental fairness that is required of awarding authorities in dealing with bidders.

Finally, it should be noted that, although the Barr Incorporated decision arises out of a public building project under M.G.L. ch. 149, Massachusetts courts generally apply the same principles to all public procurements situations, whether they be public buildings or public works projects or other types of procurements.  Because of that fact, the principles stated by the SJC have a wider application in this area.

Please contact Atty. Rod Hoffman of Deutsch Williams’ Municipal Law Department for further information.  His email address is rgh@dwboston.com.

The Boston Bar Association will be holding its annual Workshop for Public Sector Labor Relations Specialists at Harvard Law School on May 5th. Attendees will become familiar with current trends in collective bargaining and other issues affecting public employees. Peter Berry has co-chaired the program for the past ten years. This year, Brian Magner, on behalf of management, will be participating on the panel regarding the Municipal Health Care Reform Act.

Following many years of litigation, a lengthy 2007 trial, and appeals by the federal government, Deutsch Williams this year prevailed in the malicious prosecution case of Limone et al. v. United States. We have collected for our client more than $30 million, or the full amount of her share of the $101 million judgment, which is the largest such award in United States history. The case arose from the FBI’s subornation of perjury by a mob informant, resulting in the murder convictions and incarceration of four men for several decades. The 2009 opinion of the First Circuit Court of Appeals (579 F.3d 79) may be found at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-1st-circuit/1446207.html.