Monthly Archives: January 2016

Massachusetts Court Decision Could Impact Up to a Thousand or More Similar Cases across the Country

CPCS Innocence Program Director Lisa Kavanaugh – Co-Counsel in Groundbreaking Case

On January 26, 2016, Judge Robert J. Kane overturned the 24-year-old rape conviction of George D. Perrot, ruling that scientific consensus indicates that the key, expert testimony of a FBI hair analyst would today be flawed and, therefore, inadmissible.

CPCS Innocence Program Director Lisa Kavanaugh is quoted in an article released by the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University saying, “Although the decision does not bind other courts, Judge Kane’s careful analysis ‘is very significant’ and could influence judges in other jurisdictions.”

To read the entire article visit:

Women with Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Will No Longer Be Sent to MCI Framingham – Governor Signs Bill that Gets Women the Treatment They Need and Deserve

A new law will go into effect 90 days after it was signed by Governor Baker on January 25, 2016. This law ends the civil commitment of women with alcohol and substance use disorders to prison.

Chief Counsel Benedetti said, “The practice of sending women to Framingham who are struggling with alcohol and substance use has ended.  This is a tremendous step that will aid many of our clients.  It is also encouraging to see that Massachusetts has come to understand that placing persons with alcohol and substance use disorders in facilities used to house persons convicted of criminal offenses should not and cannot replace those providing treatment services.” 

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, “By Feb. 9, fifteen beds at Taunton State Hospital will be available for women under the civil commitment process known as ‘Section 35’.  Twenty-eight new beds have opened at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, where nurses are still being hired.”  She continued, “There are six women now civilly committed for substance abuse at Framingham who will either move to the hospitals or end their commitment before then.”

A Legislative conference committee is continuing deliberations on the remaining provisions of the Opioid bill from which the new law was generated. 

Related news articles and the Governor’s press release on the matter can be found at:,, and

MHLD Yahoo Group Important Notice

Mental Health Litigation Division Panel Members – Yahoo Group Membership:

Membership in the Mental Health Litigation Division Discussion Yahoo Group is a requirement for all attorneys on the MHLD Panel.

If you are not a member of the Yahoo group, you should join now. You will need a Yahoo account.

Some of you should have received an invitation to join this group if you are not currently a member. Please respond and complete the registration process as soon as possible.

Make sure you include an identifiable display name when you join or edit your membership.


Transitions in Youth Advocacy Division Appeals

The phrases most likely to come out of Barbara Kaban’s mouth: “I can do that.”  “I will do that.” And most likely: “I already did that.”

Barbara embodies all the characteristics of a great public defender: outstanding legal acumen, a never say die attitude, extraordinary energy, unending generosity, and a willingness to speak her mind.  Barbara came to the Committee for the Public Counsel Services in 2012, as the first Director of Juvenile Appeals for the Youth Advocacy Division.  At CPCS, Barbara teamed up with Ben Keehn and a host of other lawyers and social workers to seek justice and freedom for the dozens of adolescents who had been condemned to die in Massachusetts prisons.  Together they litigated the implementation of the 2012 Supreme Court decisions, Miller v. Alabama, which which prohibited imposition of mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles.  This resulted in the SJC decisions banning life without the possibility of parole in any juvenile case (retroactively) and creating a right to counsel and access to funds for experts in juvenile lifer parole hearings.  It also resulted (so far) in nearly a dozen positive parole votes and several former juveniles already back in the community as free men.  She has been instrumental in establishing a specialized appellate panel whose mission is to enforce and enhance the constitutional and statutory rights of Massachusetts’ juveniles.

Barbara is retiring from CPCS, but only to free her up to pursue even more litigation, writing, and teaching as a private practitioner.  She will continue to combine her expertise in education advocacy and adolescent brain development with a comprehensive understanding of the state criminal justice system to provide exceptional training and support to the cases before the state juvenile defense bar.  She has authored or co-authored countless amicus briefs and, as an expert at litigating major cases before the Supreme Judaical Court in Massachusetts, we are counting on her continuing this practice.  She will continue to be sought-after for advice regarding challenging cases and implementing innovative strategies to bend the law in the direction of justice.  Barbara is a born risk-taker and trailblazer.  We have no doubt that she will continue to push the law in a direction that most benefits juveniles and their unique legal and life needs.  She inspires (and entertains) her fellow attorneys with her quick wit and her penchant for pushing boundaries and will be deeply missed in the office.  She was never afraid to challenge conventions in her zealous advocacy for her clients.  Generations of youth in Massachusetts will reap the rewards of her efforts.  We believe we speak for all of us when we say Barbara will be sorely missed (and we certainly will keep her cell number on speed dial).

As difficult as it is to lose Barbara, we are very fortunate to be introducing the next Director of Juvenile Appeals: Ryan Schiff.  Ryan is a worth successor to Barbara.  I know this because Barbara said so.  And so did Beth.  During his tenure in the CPCS Special Litigation Unit from 2010-2015, Ryan litigated numerous successful, important appeals in the Supreme Judicial Court.  Within a month of joining the SLU, Ryan argued and won the case of Coffin v. Superintendent of the Mass. Treatment Center, in which he persuaded a majority of the SJC justices that an illegal sentence could not provide the custodial predicate for an SDP commitment.  The following year, Ryan prevailed in Doe v. Police Commissioner of Boston,  in which the SJC held unconstitutional a statutory provision of the Sex Offender Registry Law as applied to an elderly man in a rest home.  In 2013, Ryan won Comm. v Hanson H., in which the SJC held that juveniles adjudicated delinquent are not subject to mandatory GPS monitoring, and in 2014, Ryan won Moe v. Sex Offender Registry Board, a class action in which the SJC held that new registry dissemination laws for level 2 offenders could not be applied retroactively.  Prior to joining CPCS, Ryan was an Associate with Salsberg & Schneider providing representation at all stages of federal and state criminal and civil cases.  Ryan received his J.D. from Northeastern and also has an M.A. in English from UMass Boston.

As with Barbara a simple recitation of his credentials and some of his cases does not begin to do him justice.  Like Barbara, Ryan is a strategic legal thinker who excels at spotting issues and developing strategies for effecting systemic change through litigation.  He is also committed to devoting himself to providing leadership and support to all juvenile practitioners.  As he remarked in the hiring process, he is much more interested in working closely with the many strong juvenile defenders around the state to support their advocacy efforts than in playing a “Lone Ranger” role, riding to the rescue a few times a year.  Please join us in welcoming Ryan to YAD.