Monthly Archives: July 2021

Committee Meeting Agenda – July 15, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will be held virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required – details below.

  • Approval of minutes of the June 17, 2021 meeting
  • Amicus Request(s)
    *Commonwealth v. Richard Comenzo, SJC-13119
    *Rodriguez v.  Massachusetts Parole Board
  • Commitments Report
  • Monthly Financial Overview Report
  • FY 2022 Budget Update
  • Chief Counsel Report

Registration is required to join the meeting

When: Jul 15, 2021 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EB47fY6oQI6DVYl0SCDbIQ

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Defenders in the News

Hello and welcome to the fourth 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: rmcgovern@publiccounsel.net

Randy Gioia, deputy chief counsel for the Public Defender Division of CPCS, was quoted in this Berkshire Eagle article about Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s failed attempt to have a district court judge removed from the bench over a series of rulings unfavorable to prosecutors. “Calling for a sitting judge to be removed from their post based on a decision a prosecutor disagrees with is both concerning and dangerous,” Gioia said in a statement. “It sends a message to other judges that they need to fall in line or else face an attack on their livelihood, and it ignores the other avenues available when a party disagrees with a judge’s decision.” In a separate piece, the board of directors of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers was quoted as being “deeply concerned” about Harrington’s effort to “undermine the independent decision-making of a sitting judge by engaging in an ex parte communication with the Court about pending cases brought by your office.”

Debbie Freitas, a private panel attorney, was quoted in this New York Times article about juveniles being arrested and the effects these moments have on children. Debbie and her sister, Cristina Freitas, were quoted in this Boston Globe article about the challenge of finding beds for at-risk children in Massachusetts and how DCF has had kids sleeping in its offices. “The lack of foster homes has been a chronic issue,” Cristina Freitas said. “But the lack of any placement at all has come over the last month.”

Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for CPCS, was quoted in this Globe article about a Boston Police scandal involving an alleged overtime scheme. In discussing what the allegations mean for police and their honesty, he said “if a police officer is dishonest in one case, it raises legitimate questions in their other cases.” 

Benedetti was also quoted in this MassLive article about Worcester DA candidate Blake Rubin and lawyer Angela Cavanaugh being found not guilty of witness intimidation. Benedetti said, “Rubin and Cavanaugh were targeted for doing their job advising and representing their clients When prosecutors seek criminal convictions against defense lawyers based on a web of nefarious inferences and the testimony of immunized witnesses, they send an intimidating message to all defense lawyers that your freedom and livelihood are at risk if you do your job and represent clients zealously. That kind of message, especially coming from prosecutors, is extremely dangerous and obstructs our system of justice.”

Benedetti’s testimony during the inaugural hearing of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion was quoted in this CommonWealth Magazine article. He testified “that in soliciting ideas from public defenders on how to address racism, he received dozens of responses touching on topics ranging from courts and the foster care system to education and the environment. ‘No single approach is going to solve every problem,’ he said.”

Patrick Levin, a staff attorney with CPCS, was quoted in this Mass Lawyers Weekly article about a recent SJC decision that opened the door for criminal defendants who have been held based on dangerousness under G.L.c. 276, §58A during the pandemic to pursue motions for reconsideration. Levin called the decision “an enormous improvement over the status quo.”

Rebecca Jacobstein, head of CPCS’ Strategic Litigation Unit, is quoted in this Salem News article about a recent Supreme Judicial Court hearing where CPCS and others continued their fight for prisoner rights during the pandemic. Jacobstein “argued that all jails should be providing options for remote visits with clients that mirror as closely as possible in-person, contact visits, with the ability to share documents and bring in third parties such as interpreters or experts.”

James Doyle, a private panel attorney, wrote two separate articles for The Crime Report. In one piece, he explores three ideas that could potentially improve discourse surrounding the criminal legal system. Doyle also wrote a piece called “The Perils of Justice ‘Colonialism.’”

David R. Rangaviz, a staff attorney for CPCS, is quoted in this Mass Lawyers Weekly article about an SJC decision tossing out evidence from a GPS ankle monitor that showed a defendant’s movements. Rangaviz “noted that injustice often results from what turns out to be faulty assumptions about the reliability of evidence gained through technology.” He said the SJC’s ruling “is pushing trial judges to scrutinize evidence a little more on the front end and not take for granted its reliability because it has superficial appeal.”

Lisa Hewitt, general counsel for CPCS, was quoted in this CommonWealth Magazine article about the mandated reporter commission. Hewitt said that the testimony at the commission’s public hearing was “poignant and enlightening.” She said the child welfare system disproportionately affects families of color, and any change “needs to be viewed through that lens and must strive to mitigate and not exacerbate this problem.” Hewitt added “the work highlighted the need for further substantive discussion and input from affected communities. It also highlighted the need to look at the mandated reporter law in relation to the entire child welfare system.”