The Committee for Public Counsel Services Awards

Each year, the Committee for Public Counsel Services recognizes the work of individuals who dedicate their careers to overcoming injustice, and championing the cause of zealous representation and effective assistance of counsel.

Below are the awards CPCS presents to honor the outstanding work of our colleagues and biographical information on the incredible people the awards are named after. A listing of the past award recipients from 1998 through 2019 can be found here.

The Jane Addams Award for Outstanding Social Service Accomplishments honors a staff social worker or social service advocate who exemplifies a commitment to clients through their advocacy, support, and dedication.  The Addams Award recognizes the profound impact of social workers and social service advocates serving as members of a legal team.  It is named for Jane Addams, a pioneer in establishing the field of social work and the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

  • The first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Jane Addams was a trailblazer in the world of social work, civil rights and women’s suffrage in the United States. Addams successfully lobbied for the creation of a juvenile court system, factory laws and protective labor legislation for women. She was also a founding member of the National Child Labor Committee, which played a significant role in passage of a Federal Child Labor Law in 1916. Addams was an officer in the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, a pro-suffrage columnist, and she was also among the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy is presented to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to juvenile rights, which is the hallmark of Judge Blitzman’s long career as an advocate.  The award honors an advocate who has exhibited both extraordinary dedication and excellent performance to assure that children accused of criminal conduct, or otherwise at risk, are treated fairly and with dignity in the courtroom, in the community, and in the custody of the state.

  • With passion and perseverance, the Hon. Jay D. Blitzman (ret.), paved the way for the creation of the CPCS Youth Advocacy Division, a nationally recognized model for delinquency representation. Judge Blitzman, who spent 20 years as a public defender before his appointment as a Justice of the Juvenile Court, was the first director of the Roxbury Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) founded on the belief that delinquent conduct is preventable through family and community intervention – and that legal advocacy is a necessary first step in the rehabilitation of court-involved youth. Judge Blitzman also co-founded Citizens for Juvenile Justice, the only independent, nonprofit, statewide organization working exclusively to improve the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts.

The Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy is presented to the lawyer, public or private, whose representation of poor people facing the awesome power of the state is most reminiscent of Carol’s fierce commitment to their vigorous and effective representation, and the cause of equal justice for all.

  • Carol A. Donovan was a fearless appellate litigator who spent more than two decades with CPCS fighting to change the law and how society viewed her clients. Through her advocacy, Donovan had four murder convictions overturned and established a right to have counsel present during a presentence interview with a probation officer. Donovan’s litigation on behalf of clients listed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry prompted the state to institute individual hearings before a person was classified. She was a zealous advocate for children in state custody, and her work forced courts and lawmakers to pay closer attention to the due process rights of everyone – from children to those convicted of sex crimes. Donovan passed away at the young age of 55 but left behind a legacy of excellence that lives on through precedent and those who were lucky enough to know her.

The Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Service award is given to both a Public Defender and Private Counsel attorney and is named for Edward J. Duggan, who served continuously from 1940 to 1997 as a member of the Voluntary Defenders Committee, the Massachusetts Defenders Committee and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.  The award is presented each year to the public defender and private attorney who best represent zealous advocacy – the central principle governing the representation of indigents in Massachusetts.

  • Edward J. Duggan will stand forever as a towering figure in the history of CPCS and its predecessor agencies. For 57 years, from 1940 to 1997, he played a continuous and major role in developing, strengthening and preserving the right to counsel for poor people in Massachusetts. Duggan never backed down from a fight during his career as a public defender. He served as a member of the Voluntary Defenders Committee the Massachusetts Defenders Committee and finally the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

The Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award recognizes a public defender or private attorney whose legal advocacy on behalf of persons involved in mental health civil commitment, guardianship of adults, or criminal mental health proceedings, best exemplifies zealous advocacy in furtherance of all clients’ legal interests and autonomy.

  • The late Hon. Paul J. Liacos, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), was on the bench during a transformative time in Massachusetts law. He was on the high court when it it held ed the death penalty unconstitutional under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. While he was on the bench, the SJC also broadened protection for a woman’s access to abortion, and extended defendants protection in search and seizure cases. Justice Liacos also authored several opinions protecting the rights of the mentally ill, once writing: “To protect the incompetent person within its power, the state must recognize the dignity and worth of such a person and afford to that person the same panoply of rights and choices it recognizes in competent persons.”

The Thurgood Marshall Award honors a person or persons who champion the cause of zealous representation for the poor and the right to effective assistance of counsel for all.

  • Hon. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American jurist on the United States Supreme Court, was a titan in the world of civil rights. Prior to his time on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall founded and became the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. While with the NAACP, he argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court – including Brown v. Board of Education, in which the high court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools were unconstitutional. While on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall was a strong advocate for equal protection of the law and consistently fought against the death penalty.

The Teresa McParland Award for Operational Excellence is presented to a person who demonstrates dedication, creativity and passion to improving agency operations in service to our clients through enhancing agency performance and accountability.  These attributes were all hallmarks of Terry McParland during her CPCS career. The award honors Operations staff who exhibit extraordinary dedication, excellent performance, vision, and creativity in improving the services, systems, quality of life, efficiency, and environment provided to agency staff, clients, and private counsel.

  • Teresa McParland was an integral part of CPCS for nearly four decades. McParland was hired by the agency in 1977, and during her successful career she worked in the Administration and Finance, Human Resources, and Information Technology Units. McParland was dedicated, loyal to the agency’s cause and was creative in dealing with the many problems she was tasked with solving – from becoming an expert in the state’s payment and financial reporting systems to mastering purchasing and procurement rules and regulations. During her final decade with the agency, McParland served as the point person responsible for agency facilities, overseeing a dramatic expansion of staff offices. McParland set the bar for the CPCS operations staff.

The Maura Mellen Administrative Professional Award honors an administrative staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the delivery of zealous and effective advocacy for CPCS clients. The award recognizes that administrative staff members perform many critical roles in the provision of zealous representation to CPCS clients.

  • During more than two decades of work at CPCS, Maura Mellen was known as a knowledgeable and cooperative colleague who would take on any assignment that came her way. She began as a secretary in 1975 and was later promoted to Assistant Supervisor in the Payments Department. Mellen passed away suddenly at the young age of 47 and left behind scores of anecdotes and recollections among the many who were privileged to be her friends.

The Maria Souto–Armand Goyette Investigator Award honors a staff investigator for outstanding investigative work. Maria Souto was an indefatigable CPCS investigator in the Boston office. Armand Goyette, the first investigator at the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, was recognized as a consummate criminal defense investigator who provided outstanding service for over 25 years.

  • While working as an investigator for CPCS, Maria Souto always went well beyond the call of duty and was passionate about her job. She would often drop what she was doing in order to assist with a case, and if there was a witness who was “impossible” to find – Souto not only found them – she would persuade them to share their story. She passed her passion on to future investigators and created her own one-day training program for her interns. Souto never took the easy way out, and her methods and tenacity were invaluable to every attorney she worked with.
  • For more than two decades, Armand Goyette was an investigator for CPCS in Bristol County, and during his time he earned the respect of public defenders, judges, court employees, prosecutors and members of the Bar. Goyette counseled, assisted and nurtured generations of attorneys during his time with CPCS and maintained a keen eye for issues that could make or break a case.

The Margaret Winchester Award for Child Welfare Advocacy honors a staff member or a private attorney who, through their zealous advocacy and extraordinary commitment to children and parents in care and protection and other Massachusetts child welfare cases, is a model for other advocates seeking to protect the rights of children and parents.

  • A tireless and courageous champion for children and parents, Margaret Winchester was an early member of the trial and appellate panels for the Family Law Advocacy Project – the precursor to the CPCS Children and Family Law Division. She launched CAFL’s Worcester trial office and helped it grow from a staff of five to more than 20 in three years. Through her appellate work, Winchester was able to establish a right to counsel for parents who were in jeopardy of losing their children to state custody in status offense cases. A one-time high school teacher, Winchester loved helping her staff learn, grow, and develop as professionals.