The Symposium

The Symposium took place on June 13th, 2013, at Boston College Law School, Newton Campus, Newton, Massachusetts.


The Symposium was videotaped and can be viewed on the Boston College Law School website:



A synopsis of the proceedings can be found on the Columbia Law School website and is also included below:


  • This symposium, which took place at Boston College School of Law in June 2013, considered the role of state attorneys general by analyzing the tenure of former Massachusetts Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti.  Director James E. Tierney along with former Massachusetts governor and Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis were among a number of distinguished guests and participants.  During the symposium, General Bellotti discussed his decision not to defend a class action suit in 1970, brought by family members of individuals institutionalized at Massachusetts' Walter E. Fernald State School, a publicly funded institution for the treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities.   Attorney General Bellotti recounts that during a visit to the institution, he observed residents living in decrepit conditions. He promptly sent a letter to then Governor Michael Dukakis stating that his office could not, in his estimation, defend the State against the suit because the living conditions he witnessed at the school did not pass constitutional muster.
  • To watch Director Tierney discuss the refusal to defend issue in the context of Attorney General Bellotti's tenure, please click here (Discussion begins around the 22:00 minute mark of the video).
  • To watch Attorney General Bellotti discuss the Walter E. Fernald State School case and his deliberative process, please click here (Discussion begins around the 12:28 minute mark of the video). 
  • To watch Governor Dukakis discuss Attorney General Bellotti's decision not to defend the suit brought by the parents of Walter E. Fernald State School residents, please click here   (Discussion begins around the 38:00 minute mark of the video).



Symposium Schedule was as follows:

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Light continental breakfast

9:00 – 9:30 a. m.

Welcome message from Vincent D. Rougeau, Dean, Boston College Law School

Overview of Symposium by James E. Tierney,
Director, National State Attorneys General Program, Columbia Law School

9:30 – 10:00

Featured Speaker: Michael S. Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

10:00- 10:30

Video:  A New Kind of Attorney General’s Office
Frank Bellotti, in conversation with former AAGs,  explains how he built the office

10:30 – 10:40

Morning Break

10:40 – 11:20

Panel Discussion I: Government Bureau
Thomas Barnico, Margot Botsford, Mitchell J.Sikora, Donald K. Stern


Panel Discussion II: Public Protection Bureau
Paula Gold, L. Scott Harshbarger, Stephen Leonard, John T. Montgomery, Barbara Rouse

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.


1:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Panel Discussion III: Criminal Bureau
Paul Cirel, William D. Delahunt, Stephen R. Delinsky, Thomas R. Kiley

1:45 – 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon Break

2:00- 3:00 p.m.

Plenary Session with Francis X. Bellotti