Monthly Archives: April 2021

Defenders in the News

Hello and welcome to the second edition of Defenders in the News

On the last Friday of every month we will publish a list of news items, awards or big decisions involving anyone under the CPCS banner. If we missed anything, or if you spot an article that needs to be included in the weeks ahead, feel free to send it to CPCS Communications Director Bob McGovern at:

Cristina Rodrigues, a CPCS staff attorney, won the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ prestigious Hines-Burnham Award for her outstanding contribution to racial justice and civil rights. The Hines-Burnham award is reserved for attorneys who have demonstrated excellence and innovation within the first 10 years of criminal defense practice.

Joe Schneiderman, a private panel attorney, was quoted in a Boston Herald article about his victory in Commonwealth v. Ulani. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated a contempt judgment against a juvenile, and found that a lower court judge abused her discretion by not taking the teenager’s status as a juvenile into account. Schneiderman called the decision “a banner, positive, landmark win for children throughout the commonwealth. Children in juvenile court shall not be treated as criminals.”

Randy Gioia, deputy chief counsel for CPCS’s Public Defender Division, was interviewed by GBH about the resumption of jury trials. Gioia said, “we all know that studies have shown that racial and ethnic minorities have suffered disproportionately from COVID, and they’re less receptive to taking the vaccine. We’re concerned that they’ll be less likely to appear for jury duty, and an accused person won’t have a jury that represents a fair cross section of the community, like the person is entitled to.”

Jeffrey Baler, a private panel attorney, earned a victory for his client in Commonwealth v. Williams, where the Supreme Judicial Court vacated a murder conviction because “the trial judge abused his discretion in excusing a juror who professed an inability to begin deliberations anew after the discharge of another juror.”

Jacqueline M. Dutton, Attorney-in-Charge of the combined District and Superior Court Office in Worcester, was quoted by the Telegram in its piece about Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. failing to disclose information about an integrity unit created after a complaint about the Worcester PD. Dutton said, “I would expect, as a lawyer, under ethical rules to do justice, that they would want to follow up on concerns about integrity — even just to say, ‘We looked into it, and there’s nothing there.’”

Anne Stevenson, a private panel attorney, was quoted in a Patch article about Marblehead’s search for a new police chief. Stevenson said “civil rights and equality are things that we need to look at, and make sure that the new candidate is going to put us in a good position and shares our values in that respect.”

Victoria Bleier, a staff attorney, was quoted in a CommonWealth Magazine piece about the effect the pandemic has had on the child welfare system in Massachusetts. Bleier said, “there are huge due process implications with terminating a parent’s rights and permanently severing the connection a child has with the parent over Zoom.”

James Doyle, a private panel attorney, was quoted in a New Yorker article about Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who studies how false memories can affect our daily lives. Doyle said that Loftus’ “work changed the whole story of what an eyewitness case was about, and destabilized a solid and routine part of the criminal caseload.”

A CPCS staff attorney and her client were quoted in a Marshall Project article about how video chats replaced in-person visits between parents and their children placed in foster care. The client, discussing the practice, said “it’s just impossible to bond with her over the screen. Ever since, I’ve been asking basically, ‘Can I hold my daughter?’”

Lisa Billowitz, a private panel attorney, was quoted in a Boston Globe article about the Supreme Judicial Court reducing the sentence of her client, Raymond Conception, from first degree murder to second degree murder due to his cognitive impairment. Billowitz said she was “pleased that the SJC held that Raymond’s unusual vulnerabilities — including his intellectual disability and the coercion by adult gang members — warranted a reduction to second-degree murder, with an earlier opportunity for parole.”

April 2021 MHLD News

Kudos to Miriam, Beau & everyone who contributed to the MHLD Newsletter April 2021

  • Interesting, informative and helpful.

  • Here are the headlines:

  • Upcoming Webinars – check them out on the Training Page
  • Why Race Matters Speaker Series: We encourage you to register for the April 26th session on the Harvard Study on Racism in the Criminal Justice System. There will be MHLD-specific breakout sessions on how to raise and litigate racial bias in mental health cases.
  • April is National “Minority” Health Month – Resources to keep you informed
  • CDC Declares Racism a Serious Public Health Threat
  • Resources for Culturally Responsive Behavioral Health
  • Research Shows Neurological and Psychiatric Outcomes from COVID article from Lancet
  • Recent SJC Arguments by the Appellate Unit
  • April 5 In the Matter of K.I. “Impounded Case” SJC-13081
  • April 9 In the Matter of P.R. “Impounded Case” SJC-13068
  • To watch the arguments, go to the Suffolk/SJC archive page:
  • New Attorneys Joining the Guardianship Panel after completing certification training. Thanks to all who helped

Committee Meeting Agenda – April 15, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required

  • Approval of minutes of the March 16, 2021 meeting
  • Amicus Request(s)
    *Commonwealth McDermott, SJC-13091 – Reporting Only
    *Commonwealth Bailey-Sweeting, SJC-13086 – Reporting Only
    *Arnold Emma Massachusetts Parole Board, No. SJC-12954
  • CAFL Emergency Declaration – Franklin-Hampshire County
  • Monthly Financial Overview Report
  • Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  • Chief Counsel Report
  • Executive Session
    *Litigation Matters

You are invited to a Zoom webinar:
When: Apr 15, 2021 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: CPCS Committee Meeting – April 15, 2021

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.