Hakeem Muhammad, a future Committee for Public Counsel Services public defender, has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship.
The $10,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating law student who is committed to providing legal assistance to underrepresented individuals and communities in Massachusetts upon graduation.
“The Massachusetts Bar Association is very pleased to present this scholarship to Hakeem, who has already demonstrated an impressive dedication to protecting the rights of others through his past public interest experiences,” said attorney Francis C. Morrissey, chair of the MBA’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship Committee. “We look forward to welcoming him as a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and we wish him well as he gets ready to begin his career as a public defender in Boston.”
Muhammad, a Northeastern University School of Law Public Interest Law Scholar, was an intern at CPCS’ Roxbury office last summer. He will begin his legal career as a Roxbury Defender.
“We are excited to have Hakeem join our team of dedicated, hardworking Roxbury Defenders,” said Allison Cartwright, Attorney-in-Charge at the Roxbury CPCS office. “This is especially so as Hakeem interned at our office last summer and is familiar with the communities we serve.”
While interning with CPCS, Muhammad helped argue that a defendant charged with attempted murder had been unlawfully arrested based on false statements attributed to him by police. He also helped file a successful motion to suppress evidence that was seized without probable cause from a homeless African American teenager’s car.
“Agents of the State are more likely to trample upon the constitutional rights of defendants from inner-city neighborhoods that have been impacted by poverty and institutional racism. Such defendants are more likely not to receive the same level of quality representation that the Harvey Weinsteins, O.J. Simpsons and Lori Loughlins of the world acquire. This is very unjust. I look forward to contributing to the zealous representation of the indigent as a future trial attorney in Roxbury,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad is also the recipient of 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.
Prince was a Roxbury Defender from 1974 to 1976, and he was the chairman of the Committee from January 1992 through November 1993.