CPCS has assembled a list of important resources for lawyers and clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has also created an explainer outlining our COVID-19 litigation.
Emergency Authorization of September 21, 2021 to Add More Attoreys to the Murder List
The Chief Counsel of the Committee for Public Counsel Services has determined that there currently exists an emergency and urgent need for highly qualified attorneys to accept assignments in murder cases. This emergency is primarily the result of the complete cessation of criminal jury trials following the COVID19 pandemic and the slow resumption of jury trials as the pandemic wanes and vaccinations increase. CPCS has found it increasingly difficult to find murder list attorneys who are able and willing to take on new murder assignments. This emergency authorization gives the Chief Counsel the authority to appoint up to a total of ten (10) CPCS staff and private attorneys, who presently do not meet the minimum requirements for the murder list, to the murder list to meet the urgent demand for more attorneys to take murder cases. The Chief Counsel shall have the authority and complete discretion to appoint attorneys to the murder list who, although they do not presently meet the minimum murder list requirements as set forth in the Assigned Counsel Manual, have been, at a minimum, lead defense counsel in five (5) superior court jury trials or federal district court jury trials within six (6) years from the date of the application and have demonstrated other extraordinary qualities that are essential to the delivery of high quality legal defense services to people accused of murder. The Chief Counsel may use their authority and discretion to consider the totality of an applicant’s credentials for inclusion on the murder list and the urgent need for murder list attorneys in specific geographic areas in the Commonwealth. The decision of the Chief Counsel shall be final.
The Chief Counsel shall consider applications as they are received until ten (10) appointments are made.
Attorneys appointed pursuant to the emergency authorization:
- must be ready to accept a murder assignment promptly after appointment to the murder list and
- may carry no more than one pending murder case, unless a request to accept additional case is approved by the Deputy Chief Counsel or their designee and
- must work with an assigned mentor and
- must commit to attending a murder case specific training.
Our Mission Statement
We fight for equal justice and human dignity by supporting our clients in achieving their legal and life goals. We zealously advocate for the rights of individuals and promote just public policy to protect the rights of all.
• Courage • Accountability • Respect • Excellence
What We Do
We provide legal representation in Massachusetts for those unable to afford an attorney in all matters in which the law requires the appointment of counsel. This includes representation in criminal, delinquency, youthful offender, child welfare, mental health, sexually dangerous person and sex offender registry cases, as well as related appeals and post-conviction matters.
Representation is provided by a combination of approximately 500 staff attorneys and 3,000 private attorneys trained and certified to accept appointments. Support for and supervision of these attorneys is provided by the Private Counsel and Public Defender Divisions (for criminal cases and related matters), the Children and Family Law Division (for child welfare cases), the Youth Advocacy Division (for delinquency, youthful offender, and GCL revocation cases), and the Mental Health Litigation Division (for guardianships and mental health/substance abuse commitments). Additionally, the Immigration Impact Unit provides attorneys within all divisions with training, litigation support and advice in individual cases regarding immigration consequences for noncitizens clients.
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