2023 Awards Ceremony

The Committee presented the awards at an in-person Awards Ceremony at Suffolk University Law School on May 23, 2023.

Congratulations to this year’s Award Winners

CPCS Community Leadership Award 

The CPCS Community Leadership Award will go to a person or organization dedicated to the work that we do and the communities that we serve.  The winner of this award will have undertaken a forward-looking campaign, or be committed to an ongoing mission, that directly benefits our clients and the communities in which they live and embodies the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence.

Pasqua Scibelli & William Canavan

William Canavan has selflessly and generously helped formerly incarcerated individuals to navigate the stressful and complicated world of reentry. Bill started by volunteering to help men released from Sexually Dangerous Persons commitment at the Bridgewater Massachusetts Treatment Center and to assist them in their transition to the community. As a formerly incarcerated person, Bill drew on his lived experience to assist others in successful reentry. He first started the Boston Release Network (BRN) as a volunteer organization helping men access housing, state identification cards, public benefits and MassHealth.

Bill later turned BRN into a formal non-profit, Baystate Reentry Network and connected with community sponsors. Bill developed excellent working relationships with community resources that provide housing and treatment as well as close working relationships with officials in probation, parole, and the Department of Correction. Since 2012, BRN has become an essential resource for the most marginalized of returning citizens and has helped them to successfully reintegrate into the community.

The immense value of Bill’s hard work and unyielding commitment to the community cannot be quantified. Bill nearly single-handedly is responsible for reducing recidivism in his support of people convicted of sex offenses – offenders who are intentionally excluded from most reentry services that are available to others. Bill’s community leadership in an area with great need and few resources has transformed the lives of so many.

Jane Addams Award for Outstanding Social Service Accomplishments 

The Jane Addams Award for Outstanding Social Service Accomplishments honors a staff social worker or social service advocate who exemplifies a commitment to clients through their advocacy, support, and dedication consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. The Addams Award recognizes the profound impact of social workers and social service advocates serving as members of a legal team.  It is named for Jane Addams, a pioneer in establishing the field of social work and the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

Duci Goncalves & Raquel Calderon

Raquel Calderon, Social Service Advocate with the YAD Lowell office, has been working with YAD clients over the last eight years. Raquel’s impact on our clients’ cases and their lives is unparalleled. She is an advocate that never gives up. Her ability to form meaningful and trusting relationships with adolescents and young adults who have experienced chronic trauma, poverty, racism, and disenfranchisement has made all the difference in the outcomes of their legal cases and their lives. The attorneys in the YAD Lowell office see Raquel as the heart and soul of the team.

The title of Social Services Advocate does not come close to capturing everything that Raquel does on behalf of our clients. She is one part investigator, one part counselor/therapist, one part attorney whisperer, one-part social services advocate, and all parts fierce. Because of who she is and the trust she builds, clients do not hesitate in reaching out when in trouble, when interacting with the police, when scared about an encounter that occurred or when facing life struggles. She has boundless energy and an upbeat attitude and is always willing to take on new projects and challenges.

Raquel’s work has also been instrumental with juvenile murder cases and on the juvenile life without parole case she worked on post the Miller decision. Raquel is a quintessential social worker and an invaluable member of the YAD SSA Team.

Margaret Winchester Award for Child Welfare Advocacy

The Margaret Winchester Award for Child Welfare Advocacy honors a person who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the families of Massachusetts by protecting the rights of parents, children, and other parties in care and protection and other family regulation/child welfare cases, consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. The recipient is someone who, much like Attorney Winchester, is a champion for children, parents, and others, assuring that they are treated equitably and with dignity in the courtroom, in the community, and in their dealings with the Department of Children and Families.

Mike Dsida & Michael S. Penta

After four years with the Department of Revenue, Michael S. Penta opened his own firm. In 2007 he joined the CAFL appellate panel and has, since then, taken more than 100 CAFL appeals on behalf of children and indigent parents in termination, care and protection, and guardianship appeals.  Appellants rarely win CAFL appeals, but Mike has won several, including Guardianship of Kelvin, one of the most important guardianship appeals in decades. Mike, representing a mother, successfully argued that, in proceedings on a parent’s petition to remove a guardian of a minor, it is the guardian – not the parent – who should bear the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the parent remains unfit. Mike’s advocacy forever changed guardianship practice.

Mike also won two important “DCF bad-behavior” appeals, Adoption of Franklin and Adoption of Dimitri. In both cases, DCF violated its own regulations and actively hampered reunification efforts; in each case the Appeals Court noted DCF’s misconduct and parroted back Mike’s arguments in condemning the agency’s behavior.

Mike is one of the finest writers on the appellate panel, bringing his A-game to every appeal. Mike is an excellent mentor, taking on several mentees since 2015, and a regular trainer of appellate attorneys on writing and appellate case law. But most important is Mike’s unflagging devotion to the fair treatment of parents and children in the child welfare system.

Mike is a 1996 graduate of Tufts University and a 2000 graduate of the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Willie J. Davis and Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Advocacy – Private Counsel

The Willie J. Davis and Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Advocacy award is given to both a Public Defender Division and Private Counsel attorney and is named for two extraordinary leaders.  The awards are presented to criminal defense attorneys who demonstrate exceptional skill, determination, compassion, and courage while zealously representing indigent clients in the trial courts of the Massachusetts criminal legal system consistent with the CPCS core values of care, accountability, respect, and excellence.

Rose King & Richard J. Farrell, Jr.

“He fights for his clients until there is no fight left and that is the sign of a great attorney.” That is what one of his many references said when Rich was accepted to the murder panel in 2020.  Richard J. Farrell, Jr. grew up in the Worcester area, and went to high school at Wachusett Regional. After graduating from high school, he went on to U-Mass Amherst, where he delivered pizzas and got a degree in Psychology!

After graduating from Boston College Law School in 1997, Rich went to work at a small litigation firm, and in 1999 he opened his own practice. During his first few years of practice, Rich worked alongside a criminal defense attorney doing Federal work, where he learned the fine art of trial work and evidence.

In 2006, Rich began working as a Bar Advocate in Fitchburg District Court and in 2011, he became Superior Court certified.  Rich joined the board of the Bar Advocates of Worcester County in 2013 and became President of the Board in 2018. In 2021, Rich became a Supervising Attorney and was instrumental in guiding the Worcester Bar Advocates through the pandemic. In addition to the adult criminal trial panel, Rich has also practiced on the post-conviction, SORB, and SDP panels.

In addition to his trial expertise and accomplishments, Rich is remarkable for his generosity of spirit. He has mentored dozens of attorneys, assisted many other attorneys with case advice and, despite a busy practice, does not hesitate to accept assignment of difficult and complex cases when asked.

When not torturing himself in court, Rich is an avid skier and mountain biker.

Willie J. Davis and Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Advocacy – Public Counsel

The Willie J. Davis and Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Advocacy award is given to both a Public Defender Division and Private Counsel attorney and is named for two extraordinary leaders.  The awards are presented to criminal defense attorneys who demonstrate exceptional skill, determination, compassion, and courage while zealously representing indigent clients in the trial courts of the Massachusetts criminal legal system consistent with the CPCS core values of care, accountability, respect, and excellence.

Arnie Stewart & Steven Van Dyke

Steven Van Dyke found the path to his true calling of public defender work after participating in the Defender’s Clinic at BC Law School where he represented clients appearing in the Dorchester Division of the BMC. Steve started with CPCS, Public Defender Division, in the Boston Trial Unit in 2008 and transferred to the Superior Court Office in Essex County in 2010. Steve remained in the now, PDD Lawrence Trial Office, as a staff attorney for nearly a decade, with a pause from 2015 to 2017, when he served on a rotation as a trainer in the Training Unit. While there, Steve was an invaluable asset, actively participating in New Lawyer Training for two separate incoming New Lawyer Fall Hires. In addition, Steve served as an interim Supervising Attorney with the PDD Lawrence Trial Office.

Steve has been instrumental in advocating for, and promoting an expansion in the use of attorney conducted panel voir dire and has been an extremely vocal and written opponent of the abuses of G.L. c276, section 58A ‘dangerousness’ hearings. He challenged the proliferation of its use before the SJC in Commonwealth v. Scione and has spoken out against it to the Legislature.

Steve is an adjunct professor at BC Law School, and serves as one of the coaches for the school’s Mock Trial Team.

Steve is currently in the PDD Malden Trial Office where his infectious and bellowing laughter, boundless energy, compassion, and collegial good cheer is enjoyed and treasured by both his clients his colleagues, alike. He is a consummate and highly skilled trial lawyer, and is truly deserving of the Willie J. Davis and Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Advocacy.

Teresa McParland Award for Operational Excellence

The Teresa McParland Award for Operational Excellence is presented to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improving agency operations in service to our clients through enhancing agency performance consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. These attributes were all hallmarks of Terry McParland during her CPCS career. The award honors Operations staff who exhibit extraordinary dedication, action, vision, passion, and creativity in improving the services, systems, quality of life, efficiency, and environment provided to agency staff, clients, and private counsel.

Delfina E. Hite & Kevin S. Ruderman

Kevin S. Ruderman is the Recruiting & Hiring Manager at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Prior to his current position he was a Legal Training Attorney for three years in the then Criminal Defense Training Unit of CPCS and started his career as a public defender in 2007 as a Trial Attorney in the Boston Trial Office. He is a 2007 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College, and holds a Master of Education in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education from the University of Delaware.

Kevin is responsible for managing the Recruitment and Hiring Unit which includes recruitment of all positions, guidance to hiring managers, salary scales and compensation structures, new hire orientations, maintaining and creating exit interview and attrition data. Throughout his 15-year career at CPCS Kevin has demonstrated his dedication to the agency, our mission, our clients, and staff. His work ethic is unmatched, he is a team player that is always available to assist and willing to take on anything that is thrown his way. Kevin exemplifies the hard work, dedication, courage, and accountability that this award represents.

Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy

The Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy recognizes excellence in legal advocacy and is given to attorneys – public or private – whose zealous advocacy has had a lasting impact on the legal and/or life outcomes experienced by our clients. Recipients will demonstrate the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence through appellate or other strategic litigation while addressing systemic injustice affecting CPCS clients and the communities in which they live.

Rebecca Kiley & Patrick Levin

In almost ten years as a staff attorney with the Public Defender Division’s Appeals Unit, Patrick Levin has had an enormous positive impact on criminal law in Massachusetts. Patrick is a brilliant legal analyst and writer. Time and again he has persuaded our appellate courts to enhance our clients’ rights, in areas from search and seizure to sentencing.

Thanks to Patrick’s work: the circumstances under which police can impound and search a car have been reined in, Commonwealth v. Oliveira and Commonwealth v. Goncalves; police need a warrant to review body-camera footage of the inside of a client’s home, Commonwealth v. Yusu; police cannot search areas of multi-family homes without a warrant if they would need a warrant for a single-family house, Commonwealth v. Leslie; the list of predicate offenses permitting our clients to be held without bail is shorter, Commonwealth v. Escobar; Commonwealth v. Scione, clients held without bail longer than permitted by presumptive statutory time periods get individualized due process hearings, Mushwaalakbar v. Commonwealth; cross-racial eyewitness identification instructions are required, Commonwealth v. Bastaldo; and court congestion delays cannot excuse deprivations of our clients’ speedy trial rights, Commonwealth v. Davis.

And the list goes on! Patrick’s successful advocacy has helped not only his own clients, but countless others on whose behalf attorneys can cite these cases. And Patrick is endlessly generous with his time and expertise, helping his colleagues in the Appeals Unit as well as lawyers around the state who call him for advice. Patrick first honed his skills in a two-year clerkship with the Hon. James Milkey of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and CPCS has been fortunate to have him with us ever since.

Maura Mellen Administrative Professional Award 

The Maura Mellen Administrative Professional Award honors an administrative staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the delivery of zealous and effective advocacy for CPCS clients consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. The award recognizes that administrative staff members perform many critical roles in the provision of zealous representation to CPCS clients.

Jackie O’Brien & Torianna Parrish

Torianna Parrish embodies the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence which in turn allows the CAFL staff to deliver on their own responsibilities of providing zealous and effective advocacy for CPCS clients. Tori joined CPCS in July 2017 as an Administrative Assistant in the Children and Family Law Division’s (CAFL) Springfield Trial Office. Tori’s exceptional skills and leadership qualities were the foundation for her promotion to Supervising Administrative Assistant in the CAFL Springfield office in September 2019.

Tori’s own commitment to excellence and attention to detail enabled the CAFL Springfield staff to meet the extraordinary challenges that were faced during the forced remote work of the pandemic, the subsequent return to the office with hybrid work, a recent office relocation, and an on-going attorney shortage. She has accomplished this with strength, conviction, and patience. Tori’s leadership has contributed to the success of the CAFL Springfield staff having the ability to serve their clients throughout these challenging times.

Tori treats staff and clients with respect and kindness yet holds herself and everyone accountable. She is ready and capable of taking on any task which comes her way. Tori’s contributions are instrumental in ensuring the delivery of zealous and effective advocacy.

Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award

The Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award recognizes a staff or private attorney whose advocacy on behalf of persons involved in mental health litigation proceedings exemplifies client centered zealous advocacy consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. The award honors a person whose advocacy has made a meaningful impact in furtherance of our clients’ interest in due process of law, personal autonomy, and the ability to live an independent life.

Miriam Ruttenberg & Laura A. Sanford

Miriam Ruttenberg, Esq. (she/her) served as the first full-time Training Director for the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Mental Health Litigation Division from May 2018 to April 2023. As part of the CPCS Training Department, Miriam developed, managed, and taught various training opportunities for the private bar and staff from initial certification courses in civil commitment and adult guardianship proceedings to continuing legal education programs. These trainings covered a broad range of topics including trial skills, anti-racist advocacy, disability rights, reasonable accommodations, and less restrictive alternatives. Miriam was co-chair of the CPCS Wellness Committee which provides programs and other support for staff and private bar and social service expert well-being. Miriam also supervised and co-authored the 7th edition update of the MCLE Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts: A Manual for Defense Counsel.

Prior to becoming the MHLD Training Director, Miriam worked at the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee from December 2000 to May 2018. At MHLAC Miriam advocated for and represented clients in matters including custody and parenting time, adult guardianship, education rights, medical discrimination, and appropriate mental health care for incarcerated clients. Miriam also chaired a coalition to pass a bill prohibiting school arrests for minor misbehavior, advocated for improved ADA accommodations in the courts, and coordinated MHLAC trainings for attorneys and clinicians. Before moving to Massachusetts, Miriam represented LGBTQ+ clients in family and employment law matters at a small firm in Maryland, assisted with class action lawsuits on behalf of prisoners at the ACLU National Prison Project, and helped people living with HIV/AIDS access disability benefits at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC.

Miriam earned her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College and her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law.

Maria Souto–Armand Goyette Investigator Award

The Maria Souto–Armand Goyette Investigator Award honors a staff investigator for outstanding investigative work consistent with the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence. Maria Souto, an indefatigable CPCS investigator in the Boston Trial office, and Armand Goyette, the first investigator at the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, established a standard for zealous, insightful, and skilled investigation that is still the national gold standard.

Arnie Stewart & Kyle T. Cormier

Kyle T. Cormier has worked as a criminal defense investigator at CPCS for 19 years, starting as a staff investigator for the New Bedford Office in 2004 and since 2011, as the Regional Supervising Investigator for the Southeast Region. Kyle received his associate degree in criminal justice from Bristol Community College in 2002 and his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Massachusetts in 2017.

Kyle is one of three CPCS investigators certified in mobile forensic examinations, and he is the training coordinator for all in-house training for our investigators. In addition, Kyle coordinates the yearly multi-state all day investigator training including the public defender agencies of Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Kyle brought a lot of skills from previous careers to help him as an investigator. From real estate sales to inventory control, working as an emergency medical technician to even working as a commercial pilot and flight instructor, these were all jobs where communicating with others was central to completing the tasks at hand in the most effective manner.

Most important to him, Kyle is just weeks away from his 19th wedding anniversary to his wife Toni, is a dad to 4 children: Heather, Alex, Zach and Elliot, a doggie dad to his chihuahua Chico, but loves the most the title of “papa” given to him by his three grandkids: Bryson, Grace, and Lennon.

Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy

The Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy is presented to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to courageously advocating for the rights of children and youth, which was the hallmark of Judge Blitzman’s long career.  The award honors an advocate who exemplifies the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence and has exhibited extraordinary dedication, compassion and skill to assure that children accused of criminal conduct, or otherwise at risk, are treated fairly, equitably, and with dignity in the courtroom, in the community, and in the custody of the state.

Duci Goncalves & Melissa Ellis

Melissa Ellis has been practicing for over thirty years, including twenty-seven years as a private attorney with a concentration on representing adults and youth charged with criminal offenses, and for the last four years she has been Staff Counsel for CPCS/Youth Advocacy Division, helping support and oversee our private attorneys practicing in the Juvenile Courts.

As a criminal defense attorney Melissa represented clients in the Juvenile, District, Superior and Appellate Courts. She has had numerous jury trials in each of the trial courts, and many appellate cases and oral arguments. She served as an adult supervising attorney in Bristol County then as the juvenile supervising attorney for many years, and she also served on the Bristol County Bar Advocates Board of Directors. She enjoys working with her colleagues and she is fortunate to have gotten to know so many dedicated and capable attorneys in her roles as a practitioner and as private supervising attorney and now as YAD Staff Counsel.

Melissa has demonstrated remarkable patience, wisdom, and intelligence in dealing with attorneys and clients. Her grasp of the law is comprehensive and nuanced, but even more admirable is her obvious gift for working with people. She is a skilled listener, compassionate and respectful of others. Melissa has continually been an icon of even-tempered, thoughtful, and effective professionalism. Her ability to balance trial and appellate work provided her with a valuable perspective which she willingly shared. Her warmth, sense of humor, and generous nature make her a valuable resource for both staff and private counsel for questions and advice. Last year, YAD expanded the right to counsel for youth that are committed to DYS. Melissa, along with private counsel staff took on the monumental task of assigning counsel to all DYS-committed youth. The impact of this work cannot be understated: all youth committed to DYS now have a trained, supported attorney to represent them.

Thurgood Marshall Award

The Thurgood Marshall Award honors those who champion the cause of zealous representation and the right to effective assistance of counsel on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the vulnerable and, in so doing, contribute to building a more equitable and healthy community for all. This award is given to an individual or group who pushed for lasting, equitable changes in the legal system and/or the societal structures that affect CPCS clients and client communities. Recipients will embody the CPCS core values of courage, accountability, respect, and excellence.

Vanessa Velez & John P. Warren

John P. Warren has been a criminal defense lawyer since graduating from law school in 2012. He got his start with CPCS, where he practiced for six years, first in the New Bedford office, and then in the Roxbury office. In 2018, John left CPCS to become a solo practitioner. John has continued his criminal trial court work and began taking on criminal appeals in 2019.

John’s representation, in Suffolk Superior Court and on appeal, of Edward Long – a young Black man who had been pulled over by police under the pretext of a minor traffic infraction – culminated in Commonwealth v. Long, 485 Mass. 711 (2020), an equal protection case where the SJC modified the test for challenges to traffic stops conducted on the basis of race. This case will effectuate lasting, equitable changes in the legal system and societal structures that most affect our clients. John recently argued a sequel to Long, Commonwealth v. Michael Van Rader, SJC-13329, concerning an equal protection claim in the context of a pedestrian stop.

During law school, at Northeastern, John participated in the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic, which focuses on racial injustices in the Jim Crow South.


The Emerging Defender Awards are presented to one or more individuals committed to indigent defense who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, excelled when facing challenging situations, and shown they are highly motivated to continuously learn and improve. Recipients of this award will have been employed with CPCS or worked with CPCS clients for five or fewer years and demonstrated a commitment to the agency’s core values of courage, accountability, respect and excellence.

Lisa Anne Baumbach, Social Service Advocate, CAFL Pittsfield

Jessenia Carredano, Trial Attorney, PDD Roxbury

Ryan Cummins, Trial Attorney, PDD Pittsfield

Kelsey C. DeAndrade, Trial Attorney, CAFL Worcester

Cheryl A. Donovan, Private Counsel, MHLD panel

Rosie Kenney, Trial Attorney, PDD Salem

Sarah Laughlin, Social Service Advocate, PDD Boston

Cathleen Mary Lisk, Trial Attorney, PDD Springfield

Catherine McNamara, Trial Attorney, PDD Pittsfield

Eileen L. Morrison, Trial Attorney, PDD Lowell

Maura O’Keefe, Administrative Assistant, PDD Salem

Amanda Pacheco, Social Service Advocate, YAD Fall River

Elizabeth Pardy, Trial Attorney, PDD Roxbury

Melissa Ramos, Private Counsel, Post Conviction panel

Lauren A. Rose, Trial Attorney, PDD Brockton

Stanley Sajous, Investigator, PDD Malden

We fight for equal justice and human dignity by supporting our clients in achieving their legal and life goals.  We zealously advocate for the rights of individuals and promote just public policy to protect the rights of all.

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