Monthly Archives: December 2017

CPCS Plays Major Role in Massachusetts Wrongful Conviction Day

The CPCS Innocence Program led by CPCS Attorney Lisa Kavanaugh was one of several sponsors of the Massachusetts Wrongful Conviction Day held at the Massachusetts State House on October 2, 2017.

Supporters of amending Massachusetts law relative to wrongful convictions and forensic science evidence assembled at the State House to educate members of the House and Senate, their staff, and the public on the causes and remedies of wrongful convictions and the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs wrongfully convicted, innocent people and their families endure.

The event, which took place on International Wrongful Conviction Day, featured a variety of speakers who appeared at intervals throughout the day and were followed by a brief film made by students of the Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Policy Program and filmmaker and Harvard Law School Lecturer Rebecca Richman Cohen – Racing Horse Productions.  The film, which concentrates on the need for forensic justice, highlights the experience and struggle of exoneree Victor Rosario.  To view the film visit: https://vimeo.com/218886228.

Presenters included State Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), State Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and recent Massachusetts exonerees, Fred Clay and Victor Rosario, clients of Atty. Kavanaugh, who poignantly relayed their own wrongful conviction experiences.  Both served more than 30 years each in prison for offenses they did not commit.

“Wrong became right, after I spent more than three decades of waiting for science to catch up,” expressed Victor Rosario, 2017 Massachusetts Exoneree.

Also presenting were family members of exonerees who explained how wrongful convictions disrupted their and their families’ lives.  The legal community and forensic science and wrongful conviction experts from sponsoring organizations provided details of what is currently happening with wrongful convictions and in the world of forensic science, and addressed the changes that are needed.

In addition to CPCS and the CPCS Innocence Program, sponsors of the event were the New England Innocence Project, the Boston College Innocence Program, and the Harvard Criminal Justice Policy Program.

State Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont)

State Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville)

Director of CPCS Innocence Program Atty. Lisa Kavanaugh

New England Innocence Project Staff Attorney Radha Natarajan

Fred Clay – Recent Massachusetts Exoneree

Victor Rosario – Recent Massachusetts Exoneree

Beverly Rosario – Wife of Victor Rosario

Forensic Scientist Steve Laken, PhD.

Lawyers Needed to Represent Children and Parents in State Intervention Cases–Great Need in Springfield–

The Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking qualified attorneys to represent children and indigent parents in care and protection/termination of parental rights and child requiring assistance cases in the Juvenile Court.  There is a significant shortage of CAFL lawyers in western Massachusetts.  The need is most critical in the Springfield Juvenile Court.  As a result, we are particularly interested in applicants who are able to accept CAFL appointments in Springfield as soon as possible after successfully completing the certification training.

The application can be found here: CAFL Trial Panel Training Application Spring 2018

Farak Press Conference

The Committee for Public Counsel Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts held a press conference on Thursday, November 30, 2017, in anticipation of the District Attorneys dismissing thousands of cases linked to Amherst State Chemist Sonia Farak’s criminal misconduct.


CPCS Deputy Chief Counsel Randy Gioia and CPCS Atty. Rebecca Jacobstein were among those who addressed the media.

Deputy Chief Counsel Gioia opened his statement by acknowledging how the war on drugs turned into a war on poor people and people of color.  He said, “This case is a reflection of how a misguided war on drugs turned into a war on poor people and people of color.  If you’re wealthy and white and you have a drug problem, you quietly go to drug rehab.  If you’re a poor person, you can’t quietly go to drug rehab; more likely you get arrested and maybe you get put on probation or maybe you go to jail.  And it turns out, for thousands of people the system that sent them to jail or put them on probation was rotten to the core.”

Atty. Jacobstein, who has clients who suffered because of Farak’s criminal misconduct and because of the subsequent misconduct of two assistant attorneys general, expressed outrage at the resulting injustice.  She stated, “When the news of the Amherst Lab scandal broke, there were people in prison based on tainted Farak drug certificates.  Some of them filed motions to stay their sentences and got out; they went home, returned to their families, while the justice system attempted to sort out what had happened.  And then, because the Attorney General’s Office hid exculpatory evidence and lied to the court, the justice system got it wrong….One of my clients had to go back and serve 15 more months in prison, 15 months he would not otherwise have had to serve, because attorneys at the Attorney General’s Office just didn’t care about how their dishonesty would affect him, or anyone else for that matter.  My client doesn’t get that time back.  Nor do any of the other defendants who lost months or years of their lives while the truth was being concealed.  This is an outrage.”

Deputy Chief Counsel Gioia’s and Atty. Jacobstein’s full statements can be read by clicking here.

Others who participated in the November 30th press conference were ACLUM Executive Director Carol Rose, ACLUM Legal Director Matthew Segal, ACLUM Staff Attorney Carl Williams, and Nicole Westcott, one of the thousands of individuals who were impacted by Farak’s tainted evidence.

To read the various press articles on this matter click:  Farak – Press Coverage Articles.