Monthly Archives: March 2020

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Tools for Remote Communication

With the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19, more and more we are looking for ways to communicate remotely with clients, colleagues, family and friends.  Below is a list of free video conferencing options.  We are also sharing information for you and your clients about expanded internet service and no or low-cost smartphones for low-income persons.

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CPCS CLE Requirement – Emergency Policy Change – Fiscal Year 2020 Only

Dear Private Attorneys,

We hope you and your families are well during this difficult time.  Due to exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 virus, CPCS is waiving the Continuing Legal Education hours requirement for all units for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020.)

Although we have waived the CLE requirements, we encourage you to attend webinars that are relevant to your practice area to support your professional development.  The CPCS training unit will post offerings for webinars soon. Please see the CPCS Training Department Website.

You may still be paid for eight (8) hours of training if you meet the attendance and payment requirements.

Additionally, Panel Directors may offer credit for webinars that are not sponsored by CPCS.  Please contact the Panel Director for your practice area to determine whether you may get credit and bill for attendance at a webinar not sponsored by CPCS.

We hope that we will be returning to offering in-person training in the later part of the Spring (all in person CPCS training has been cancelled through April 30, 2020), and look forward to seeing you then.

The CPCS Training Department and Panel Directors

 

CPCS Statement on Coronavirus Pandemic

PRESS RELEASE

The Committee for Public Counsel Services today announced that it is taking aggressive actions in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among its employees and the public, and — with the dangers of the ongoing pandemic in mind — public defenders across the commonwealth will be heading to court next week to ask for the release of its most-vulnerable clients.

In order to provide as much social distancing as possible, the state public defender office is instituting a remote work policy. Starting on Monday, all employees across the state who can work remotely will do so. Continue reading

CPCS Committee Meeting Agenda – March 19, 2020 Meeting

As you are aware, recent events have raised serious public health concern.  As a result, Governor Baker has declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts.  In light of these developments, the Committee has determined that they are taking all matters that need to be addressed by phone.

  1. Approval of minutes of the February 25, 2020 meeting
  2. Hourly Cap Increase
  3. Coronavirus – Sick Leave Bank Change
  4. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  5. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  6. Chief Counsel Report

CPCS Training Department Response to Public Health Concerns

Given new Executive Branch directives regarding meetings and events in light of COVID-19, the CPCS Training Department is cancelling all in-person training until April 30, 2020. As you know, the situation is fluid and we are continually assessing as we get more information from public health authorities.

At this point, we will still deliver some training via webinar. Please check the training calendar. Continue reading

Public Defender Added to Access to Justice Commission

The Supreme Judicial Court has added a public defender to the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission.

Adrian Angus, a trial attorney in the Worcester Superior Court Office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, was named to the Access to Justice Commission last week. The commission, created in 2005, seeks to improve access to justice for people who are unable to afford an attorney for essential civil legal needs, such as cases involving housing, consumer debt and family law.

Angus has also served as a member of the Access to Justice Council of the Massachusetts Bar Association and as a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Central Massachusetts.

She joins, Leemarie Mosca, president and executive director of Rosie’s Place, and Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, as new members of the commission.

“We are delighted to welcome these new members to the Commission,” said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, who co-chairs the Commission, in a statement. “The new members include a public defender, the head of Boston’s pioneering provider of shelter and support services for women, and the leader of an innovative community organization known for helping children, immigrants, and refugees. Each of these new members is familiar with the barriers that too often block access to justice for the Commonwealth’s residents, and they will each bring an important perspective to the Commission’s ongoing efforts to remove those barriers.”

VIDEO: YAF Wins 2020 Reginald Heber Smith Award

The Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF), the nonprofit arm of the Massachusetts juvenile public defender agency, is 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 received the award at the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 2020 Leaders in the Law event on March 5.

Below is the video that was shown at the event:

“The work that we do at the EdLaw Project is transforming for the children and it is the same thing that many of you are trying to do for your own children, which is to make sure they have the best opportunity for educational success.  As you saw in the video, this work can have life-changing impact,” said Marlies Spanjaard, executive director of the Youth Advocacy Foundation, during her speech at the event. “Whether that means getting a child help in learning to read or clearing up a disciplinary incident or an unfair disciplinary practice, it is incredibly meaningful and gratifying to be a part of that change. It helps me—and all of us at the EdLaw Project—to feel good about the future and about the foundation we are laying for the next generation. Receiving this award tonight affirms that our work is important to all of you, too, and for that we are deeply grateful.”

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.

“I am grateful to be among so many leaders in the law. As I look around the room and see so many of my colleagues, it is truly gratifying to have an event that brings together such a cross-section of so many practice areas,”  Spanjaard said. “Though we may have diverse practice areas and interests we also have a lot in common.  This night showcases that we all share a commitment to excellence in our practice. We care about our work.  A big part of what makes me care about my work is the children we serve, and I imagine that this is something you can all relate to.”