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October 24, 2011

MBJ Submits “Friend of the Court” Brief in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Case Involving Quinn Bill Funding

On October 24, 2011, and on behalf of the Massachusetts City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association, Morgan Brown & Joy has submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case involving city and town liability for police education benefits under the so-called “Quinn Bill.”  The case, Adams v. City of Boston, is to be heard by the Court in November 2011. 

The intent of the Quinn Bill is to encourage education of municipal police officers. Cities and towns which accept the Quinn Bill pay police officers additional compensation based on educational level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.).  Under the law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is supposed to reimburse cities and towns for one half of the educational benefits paid.

In recent years, the Commonwealth has drastically reduced its reimbursement to cities and towns.  Boston, and a number of other municipalities, reduced their educational payments accordingly, relying on collective bargaining agreement provisions which authorized such reductions. In the Adams case a group of Boston Police officers claim that the Quinn Bill itself prohibits the City from reducing payments.

The City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association consists of lawyers who represent municipal governments.  On behalf of the Association, Morgan, Brown and Joy argued in its brief that the Quinn Bill does not prohibit cities and towns from negotiating reduced benefits, should the promised state reimbursement not occur, and that cities and towns should be given the flexibility to negotiate with labor organizations as to the consequences of reduced state funding. 

A copy of the brief is available on the SJC's website here.

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