Monthly Archives: January 2020

YAF Wins 2020 Excellence in Legal Services Award

The Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF), the nonprofit arm of the Massachusetts juvenile public defender agency, has been named the 2020 winner of the Reginald Heber Smith Award for Excellence in Legal Services.

The award, presented by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, goes to an organization that has exhibited innovation and excellence in legal advocacy. YAF will receive the award at the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 2020 Leaders in the Law event on March 5.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized by Mass Lawyers Weekly for the work that we do to ensure that Massachusetts’ most vulnerable kids have access to representation when they are being excluded from school and/or not receiving the special education services they need in order to succeed,” said Marlies Spanjaard, executive director of the Youth Advocacy Foundation. “We hope that this award will provide us the opportunity to raise awareness to the educational inequities that exist in our schools and the huge societal benefit of shutting down the school to prison pipeline.”

Through zealous legal representation and community-based services, YAF fights to decrease the risk of chronic court involvement and to increase the chances that young people will grow into healthy, thriving adults.

YAF’s innovative EdLaw Project has been in existence since 2001 and has provided direct representation to nearly 2,000 children. Through the EdLaw Project, court-appointed attorneys across the state receive specialized training and support to help them incorporate education advocacy into their practice.

EdLaw attorneys are organized by region and support the 1,000-person statewide juvenile bar, which represents kids involved in child welfare cases and the juvenile justice system. As a result of the EdLaw Project and its attorneys, children across the state have received advocacy that has allowed them to remain in school and receive the services they need.

CPCS Testifies in Favor of Safe Communities Act

Wendy Wayne, director of the Immigration Impact Unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, testified in favor of the Safe Communities Act on Friday.

Wendy Wayne, director of the Immigration Impact Unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, testified in favor of the Safe Communities Act – a bill designed to protect the civil rights of all Massachusetts residents. 

Wayne, speaking before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on Friday, said the bill “prioritizes the needs of the Massachusetts criminal justice system over the civil immigration needs of ICE” by allowing state authorities to notify federal immigration officials about the release of individuals only after they have completed their criminal sentences. 

“When defendants are arrested by ICE while their cases are still pending, they rarely return to court to resolve those open criminal cases,” Wayne said. “That leaves defendants unable to assert their rights or to be held accountable, and leaves victims without closure.”

The bill bars law enforcement and court officials from asking people about their immigration status, unless otherwise required by law. It would also prevent police, court officers and jail officials from notifying ICE that someone is about to be released during a pending case.

“While ICE has arrest powers, those powers are only to take people into custody to facilitate their deportations, not to punish people, rehabilitate them or protect the public,” Wayne said. “That is the responsibility of our criminal justice system, and ICE’s arrests of people with open cases interferes with that responsibility.”

The bill would also put an end to 287(g) agreements, which allow state officials to maintain contracts with ICE.

The CPCS Immigration Impact Unit helps defense attorneys fulfill their constitutional duty to advise their clients about immigration consequences of their criminal cases. The unit also provides training throughout Massachusetts on the immigration consequences of criminal conduct, distributes written training materials and updates on significant legal issues, and provide post-conviction litigation support.

Press Contact:
Bob McGovern
rmcgovern@publiccounsel.net
617-910-5758

Roxbury Defender Receives Community Leadership Award

Roxbury Defender Kristyn Henry received an award from the North Shore Black Women’s Association for being a community leader.

Kristyn Henry, a trial attorney with the Roxbury Defenders Unit, was honored by the North Shore Black Women’s Association for being a community leader who exemplifies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “ideals, passion and commitment to service.”

Henry received the award during the NSBWA’s 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon on Saturday afternoon in Malden.

“My clients are poor, marginalized, unfairly targeted, and live in areas that are significantly over policed,” Henry said during her acceptance speech. “But my clients are also strong men and women, hard workers, immigrants, influencers, mothers, fathers, and so much more than the statistics and categories where they are regularly placed.”

Since becoming a public defender, Henry has dedicated her practice to representing people of color, immigrants, and young people who otherwise cannot afford counsel.

“As an attorney, I know that there are much higher paying and more prestigious jobs that I could have,” she said. “But I chose to be a public defender and I love what I do. I chose to exclusively represent the indigent population in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.”

Outside of court, Henry has been a mentor to young people within her community; including high school students, college students, paralegals, and law students; through various internships, mentorship programs, and work-study programs. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at Northshore Community College where she teaches various courses in its Paralegal Studies program.

“As a professor I have been blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many young people who are interested in some aspect of the legal field,” she said. “I challenge them to do better than me, do better than the attorneys before me. Because I truly believe that we all have the capacity to change the world: One small step at a time.”

Henry said she is proud of her Guyanese heritage and culture, and understands how being a young woman of color from a family of immigrants puts her in a unique position to connect with many of her clients on a meaningful level.

“Years ago, there is no way that I would be standing here before you today as a young black woman attorney and professor,” she said. “But the progress we have made is not enough. There is still so much racism, prejudice, inequality, and injustice in our communities and I believe that it is our duty, my duty, to continue to put forth my greatest effort to make change, no matter how small.”

Henry is an active member of the Massachusetts Black Lawyer’s Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She holds a Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, FL where she received a Governor’s scholarship.

Committee Meeting Agenda – January 16, 2020 Meeting

  1. Approval of minutes of the December 18, 2019 meeting
  2. Amicus Requests:
    1. Commonwealth v. Long, SJC-12868
    2. Commonwealth v. Rambert, 2018-P-1282
    3. Commonwealth v. J.S., A Juvenile, 2019-P-1645
    4. Four Co-Defendant Cases:  SJ-2019-0511; SJC-0513; SJ-2019-0512; SJ-2019-0510
    5. Commonwealth v. Bohigian, SJC-12858 (Reporting Only)
  3. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  4. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  5. Chief Counsel Report

Calendar Year 2020 Committee Meeting Dates

All meetings will being at 5:30 p.m. in the CPCS Conference Rooms at 44 Bromfield Street, Boston, MA.  The meetings will be held on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening as noted.

January 16th          Thursday
February 19th        Wednesday
February 25th        Tuesday
March 19th            Thursday (video conference)
April 16                Thursday (video conference)
May 20th               Wednesday (video conference)
June 17th               Wednesday
June 18                 Thursday (video conference)
July 15th                Wednesday
August                 NO MEETING
September 16th      Wednesday
October 14th          Wednesday
November 18th      Wednesday
December 16th       Wednesday