Monthly Archives: December 2019

CPCS Editorial: Attacks on Bail Decisions Don’t Tell Full Story

Public officials have been chastising New Bedford judges for their bail decisions – using words like “liberal” and “limited” to describe their tendencies.

Committee for Public Counsel Services leadership felt the need to push back

Randy Gioia, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Public Defender Division for CPCS, wrote an editorial for the New Bedford Standard-Times indicating that public officials are not explaining what bail really is and, in doing so, are confusing the public:

Missing from this media campaign is a degree of nuance — one where trained attorneys explain to the public what bail is in the first place. Judges are forbidden from speaking to the press, and if law enforcement officials actually told the whole story, the public would know that terms like “lenient” and “liberal” are buzzwords used to pave over an otherwise productive conversation.

The purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant comes to court after they’re released from jail.

Bail is not a form of punishment. It is not society’s way of exacting revenge for the alleged commission of a crime, and there is a very important reason for that — the Constitutional presumption of innocence.

Read the full column here.

John Lozada Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

John Lozada, Equity and Inclusion Director for CPCS.

John Lozada, the Equity and Inclusion Director for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, was named this year’s recipient of the Lucia Mayerson-David Lifetime Achievement Award at El Jolgorio Navideño, the largest Latino holiday gala in New England.

Lozada was given the award during a reception on Dec. 14.

“A trailblazer in Boston and throughout the commonwealth, John Lozada has been a tireless advocate for the Latino Community throughout his impressive career,” reads a statement, announcing the award. “A successful attorney, John has used his talents and knowledge to advocate for more Latino judges on the federal bench with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to champion civil rights at MassDOT, and now ensuring that CPCS is an inclusive environment for its staff and clients.”

Money raised through El Jolgorio Navideño support the TAG Latino Program of UMass Boston, which has provided a culturally sustaining pipeline to college for Latino students since 1985. The event is put on by the TAG Association, Inc., nonprofit organization that serves the Latino community of Greater Boston.

DO YOU WANT TO PROTECT THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF PEOPLE FACING GUARDIANSHIP PETITIONS? APPLY TO JOIN THE MENTAL HEALTH LITIGATION DIVISION TRIAL PANEL AND REPRESENT RESPONDENTS IN PROBATE COURT.

The Mental Health Litigation Division (MHLD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is now accepting applications to the spring 2020 Guardianship Certification Training.

A guardianship is a substantial deprivation of liberty – under guardianship the person can no longer legally make their own decisions about many issues, including where to live, what medical treatment to accept or refuse, and other decisions adults make every day. Because of this significant infringement on civil rights, respondents are entitled to court-appointed counsel. There is a great need for certified attorneys to represent these clients and it is rewarding work. Effective advocacy by attorneys can make a real difference in these cases. You will get client contact, litigation experience, and the satisfaction of knowing that the some of the most vulnerable people in the Commonwealth had a lawyer to fight for their rights.

This certification training will be held at Community Legal Aid in Worcester on March 16, 19, 20 (8:45 a.m. to 5:00 each day) and March 31, 2020. March 31st will be mock trials (schedule to be determined depending on number of accepted applicants).

The deadline to apply is February 10, 2020. There is no cost to apply, but the cost of the training upon registration is $125.00. Applicants must be accepted into the program in order to register. We will notify everyone of acceptance status after February 10, 2020; please allow up to ten (10) days after the application deadline before inquiring about status.

Note that it is expected that you will promptly commence your mental health practice and to take at least one mental health case within six (6) months of successful completion of this certification program.

Please click here to apply

In order to submit your application you must press Submit at the bottom left hand side, below the signature. If you are not able to complete the application at one time you may press the Save button, on the bottom right hand side, and you will receive a link to use when you are ready to complete the application.

For more information about the Mental Health Litigation Division Guardianship Certification Training or for questions about the application, please contact Miriam Ruttenberg at (617) 910-5782 or mruttenberg@publiccounsel.net

CPCS Staffers ‘Adopt’ 35 Kids for Holidays

Staff at the Committee for Public Counsel Services “adopted” 35 kids in partnership with Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Each child will get a gift for the holiday season.

Staff from the Springfield office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services “adopted” 35 kids for the holidays in partnership with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).

Each CPCS staffer received a holiday wish list from a child and then shopped for and wrapped the gifts. The gifts will be picked up by MSPCC and distributed by clinicians assigned to the children.

“The children involved in MSPCC’s programs deal with some of the most serious problems you can imagine. As public defenders, we are committed to supporting the most marginalized members of our community. We are grateful for this opportunity to let these kids know that our hearts are with them,” said Trevor Maloney, a staff attorney with the CPCS Springfield office, who helped organize the gift drive. “I’m proud to work with so many generous attorneys, investigators, social service advocates, and administrative support staff. We hope the clothes, toys, books, and other gifts bring some holiday cheer to these kids and their families.”

CPCS attorneys, investigators, social service advocates, and administrative assistants with the Youth Advocacy Division, the Children and Family Law Division and the Public Defender Division all participated.

The MSPCC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of children and families.

Appeals Court: Hearsay Not Enough to Revoke Probation

A juvenile should not have had their probation revoked based entirely “on unreliable hearsay testimony from a Department of Children and Families case worker,” the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled. 

During an Oct. 2, 2017 probation revocation hearing, a DCF case worker testified that the juvenile was not cooperating with the department and “ha[d] broken all the rules,” according to the decision.

However, the case worker was not assigned to the juvenile’s case when the alleged violations occurred. The case worker also admitted that his testimony was entirely based on conversations with a third party and notes from the juvenile’s DCF case file.

“This case is a simple case of classic, multiple-level, hearsay,” said Benjamin L. Falkner, a Committee for Public Counsel Services bar advocate, during oral arguments in March. “It does not come close to meeting the requirements of being substantially reliable.”

The Appeals Court agreed, and on Tuesday reversed a lower court judge’s order revoking probation and imposing a sentence on the juvenile.

“We … conclude that the testimony from the case worker lacked the ‘indicia of reliability’ required to support finding that the juvenile violated his probation,” Appeals Court Justice Edward McDonough wrote. “Significantly, the case worker’s testimony lacked the requisite factual detail.”

Seeking Counsel for Child Welfare Appeals

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is seeking private attorneys to join the Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division appellate panel.  CAFL appeals are appeals of final judgments in care and protection, termination of parental rights, guardianship of a minor, contested adoption, and other child welfare proceedings.  Most cases concern intervention by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in family life.  The work of the CAFL appellate panel attorneys includes interviewing and visiting clients, conducting legal research, writing motions and briefs, and arguing cases before the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court.  All CAFL appeals get oral argument.  Private panel attorneys handle the vast majority of CAFL appeals; other CAFL appeals are handled by the CAFL Appellate (staff) Unit.  This posting is not for a staff position; it is for private attorneys to obtain certification to receive, and be compensated for, CAFL appellate appointments.  Compensation is $55/hour.  New CAFL appellate attorneys receive free mentoring for several years.  Private panel attorneys submit bills to CPCS and must agree to follow all billing and other requirements set forth in the CPCS Assigned Counsel Manual, available at:

https://www.publiccounsel.net/assigned-counsel-manual/

Applicants must be admitted to the Massachusetts bar or be eligible for admission by June 30, 2020. Admission into the training is competitive and not all applicants will be admitted.  All admitted applicants must attend the three-day CAFL appellate training program scheduled for May 5, May 6, and May 7, 2020, at the office of Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.  The agency actively seeks to diversify its private attorney panel membership. Qualifications can be found here.

Applications are due on March 31, 2020, but will be accepted on a rolling basis until the training is filled.  Applications are available here: CAFL Appellate Panel Application – May 2020

Kindly direct any questions to Andrew Cohen, CPCS/CAFL Director of Appellate Panel, at: acohen@publiccounsel.net.

 

CPCS, Prince Lobel Create Walter B. Prince Fellowship

Jessie Carredano, a 2019 graduate of Suffolk Law, is the first Walter B. Prince Fellowship recipient.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services and Boston law firm Prince Lobel have joined together to create the Walter B. Prince Fellowship – a one-year program that provides financial and training support to an outstanding attorney at the beginning of their career.

The fellowship was created this year to honor the legacy of firm co-founder Walter Prince, whose early career included work with the Roxbury Defenders. The recipient of the fellowship will spend a year working and training as a public defender while being compensated by Prince Lobel.

“This fellowship has a tremendous amount of significance to me. It’s humbling, and I really appreciate what the law firm has done,” Walter Prince said. “It is providing needed funds to CPCS and it paves the way for a very bright and talented young lawyer to get a good start in the profession and in providing quality legal services to indigent clients.”

Prince was a Roxbury Defender from 1974 to 1976, and he was the chairman of the Committee from January 1992 through November 1993.

Jessie Carredano, a 2019 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, is the first-ever fellow and works for CPCS in Roxbury, West Roxbury and Dorchester.

“I am excited to work with the clients that CPCS serves. Everyone deserves to have their story told, and everyone deserves to have someone fight for them,” Carredano said. “I am also excited to be part of the Roxbury Defenders Unit. RDU is full of rich history, and I look forward to working alongside some great attorneys and learning from them.”

Carredano was a student attorney with Suffolk Defenders and represented clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies. She also was a student attorney with the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project where she interviewed inmates in preparation for their Massachusetts Department of Correction disciplinary hearings. She was also the Jack T. Litman Fellow of Harvard Defenders and helped develop defense strategies in representing indigent clients at criminal cause hearings.

Prince said young lawyers like Carredano are exactly what the firm is looking for in future fellows.

“We are looking for someone who is committed to providing quality legal services to indigent clients and someone who is passionate about the Constitution,” he said. “We want someone who is passionate about making sure that everyone has the right to a fair trial.”