Author Archives: dsimonini

Boston Globe Op Ed

CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti coauthored an Op Ed for the Boston Globe with
Dr. Laurie Guidry, chair of the Public Policy Committee for the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MATSA).  The Op Ed, “Changing Sex Offender Law Needs to Be Evidence-Based”, opposes the Governor’s legislative response to the proposed release of Wayne Chapman.  Two examiners found Chapman no longer sexually dangerous after having spent 40 years in custody, serving a lengthy prison sentence followed by sexually dangerous person civil commitment.  The Globe posted the Op Ed on July 9, 2018, online.  To read it visit:  https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/07/09/changing-sex-offender-law-needs-evidence-based/495OLMLwZHlpu4rTUDH4RP/story.html.

The Berkshire Eagle – Attorney Richard LeBlanc

The Berkshire Eagle
Monday, June 11, 2018 9:51 am

STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
Attorney Richard LeBlanc of Pittsfield has received the Edward Duggan Award from the state Commission of Public Counseling Services for his work as a public defender in the Berkshires. Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

“It’s all I ever wanted to do”: A love of the law led Richard LeBlanc to become a public defender. Now, he’s being honored for his “zealous advocacy.”

Attorney Richard LeBlanc of Pittsfield has represented countless clients facing long odds in Berkshire courtrooms. Including two of the most notorious defendants in county history, Lewis Lent and Wayne Lo.

PITTSFIELD — Richard LeBlanc’s mother loved novels that were written by mystery writers.
They included books by Erle Stanley Gardner, who created Perry Mason, a Los Angeles defense attorney who fought long odds trying to clear his clients from seemingly insurmountable situations.  Mason’s exploits became the subject of one of the most beloved and long running crime dramas in television history. LeBlanc’s whole family were big fans of the show; Rick especially liked the way it contained realistic interpretations of the law.

“The law was right down the line,” said LeBlanc, a Pittsfield native who graduated from Taconic High School in 1971. “It just fascinated me the way the whole thing worked.”
Fast forward several years. LeBlanc turned his love for Mason into a love for the law into a career as a public defender — “it’s all I ever wanted to do” — where he’s often found himself representing clients facing the same situations that his television alter ego was up against. He’s represented two of Berkshire County’s most notorious defendants, convicted child serial killer Lewis Lent, and convicted school shooter Wayne Lo. Continue reading

MBA and CPCS Issued Statement on Judicial Independence

CPCS and the Mass Bar issued a joint statement on Friday, June 8, 2018, responding to those calling for the removal of Judge Timothy Q. Feeley.  CPCS and the Mass Bar warn that removing a judge because he or she made an unpopular decision would threaten the independence of the Judiciary.  See statement below or view statement at the following link:  MBA/CPCS Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2018

CONTACTS: MBA: Kelsey Sadoff (617) 338-0680; Cameron Woodcock / (617) 338-0675; CPCS General Counsel Lisa Hewitt (617) 910-5717

Mass. Bar Association and CPCS Warn Removal of Judge
Would Threaten Judicial Independence

BOSTON, Mass. —Massachusetts Bar Association President Christopher P. Sullivan and Committee for Public Counsel Services Chief Counsel Anthony J. Benedetti release the following statement in opposition to calls for the removal of Superior Court Judge Timothy Q. Feeley:

The recent uproar related to Judge Timothy Q. Feeley’s lawful sentencing of convicted drug dealer Manuel Soto-Vittini illustrates the absolute importance of preserving an independent judiciary. As the public outcry increases, facts get distorted, and misinformation travels faster than it can be corrected. Continue reading

Press Release

In response to call for the removal of Judge Timothy Feeley, CPCS and the MBA issued a joint statement in support of the Judge and highlighting the importance of an independent and impartial judiciary.  See statement below:

CPCS and MBA: Support Impartial Courts

– Agree Attacks against Judge Feeley Detrimental to Fair Judiciary –

  Boston – In support of fair and impartial courts, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, joined by the Massachusetts Bar Association, today released a statement about efforts by some who are calling to remove Judge Timothy Feeley because of a recent sentencing decision.

“Our forefathers were careful in crafting both our nation’s tenets and in Article 29 of the Bill of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution. If we begin to remove judges because we don’t like their decisions, then we begin to undermine our judicial system and the judicial impartiality that is so vital in maintaining a fair judiciary,” said Anthony J. Benedetti, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

“An independent judiciary is a cornerstone upon which this country was founded. Our citizens are entitled to no less than a free and independent judiciary bound by the rule of law and not the vagaries of public opinion and political consequence,” said Christopher P. Sullivan, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. “Individual attacks and overly broad intrusions will have a chilling effect on the judiciary and will erode public confidence in the judicial system,” said Sullivan.

##

 

CPCS Brings Gideon to the State House

Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti

In recognition of the 55th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, CPCS held an informational forum for Legislators and their staff on Gideon and the right to counsel at the Massachusetts State House on March 20, 2018.  Although a majority of those attending were staff, several legislators, including State Rep. Joan Meschino (D-Hull), State Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham), and State Rep. Chynah Tyler (D-Roxbury) were on hand for a portion of the day’s event.

CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti thanked the audience for

SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants

Sen. William Brownsberger

attending and recognized guest speakers, SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants and Senate Judiciary Chairman William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), for agreeing to share their perspective on why the right to counsel is so important.  Both speakers focused their remarks on quality counsel and why it is necessary if we are to fulfill Gideon’s promise.  Chief Justice Gants explained that expecting attorneys, both public and private, to accept cases for inadequate compensation leads to a dearth of quality counsel.  He called attention to the fact that public attorneys who represent the liberty interests and rights of the Commonwealth’s indigent do not make nearly as much as Executive Branch attorneys who do important work, but who do not face the same burdens and complications as public defenders, especially risking a client’s freedom.  Sen. Brownsberger spoke to his personal experience as a member of the private bar who accepted indigent cases and the difficulties attorneys face, including the lack of trust clients have for most public and private assigned counsel when their they are first assigned.

Before showing the film, “Defending Gideon”, Chief Counsel Benedetti gave a brief history of the right to counsel in Massachusetts, noting, “In Massachusetts, we have unwaveringly upheld this freedom far longer than most other states with the right to counsel having a long and legendary history.  When Gideon was decided, the belief that the right to counsel is fundamental was very old news in the Commonwealth – by nearly 200 years.”  He took the audience from 1770 Colonial Massachusetts with John Adams and the Boston Massacre to 1963 and the Commonwealth’s direct involvement with Gideon because of Massachusetts Assistant AG Gerald Berlin’s amicus brief in support of Mr. Gideon and the right to counsel.

The Chief Counsel closed by telling the audience, “Although we are here to celebrate Gideon, we must also defend it.  As states across the nation struggle with dwindling fiscal resources the right that Gideon secured is in jeopardy….‘Defending Gideon’ tells the story of Clarence Earl Gideon and the successful outcome of his efforts, and it alerts us to the risks challenging the right to counsel that he so persuasively won.”  He added, “Unlike many other states, the Massachusetts system provided through CPCS has been lauded as ‘the best statewide indigent defense program in the country’, it has often been a model to which other states turn when they are looking to improve their systems, and we continue to work tirelessly with the help of both the Legislature and the Court to make certain that we protect the right to counsel and provide the highest quality, zealous representation possible to our clients.”

 

CPCS Atty. Wendy Wayne and Other Advocates File Writ of Protection Asking SJC to Block Immigration Arrests at Massachusetts Courthouses

On March 15, 2018, the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Immigration Impact Unit, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice (LCCR) and Greater Boston Legal Services filed a petition in the Commonwealth’s highest court, seeking a “writ of protection” to prevent federal immigration officials (ICE) from arresting individuals on civil immigration matters while they attend to court business.  Continue reading

Private Counsel Compensation Hearings – SPRINGFIELD HEARING POSTPONED

DUE TO THE ADVERSE WEATHER PREDICTED FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2018, THE SPRINGFIELD HEARING IS BEING POSTPONED. 

A NEW HEARING WILL BE SCHEDULED IN SPRINGFIELD AND NOTICE OF THAT EVENT WILL BE PUBLISHED SHORTLY.

Pursuant to M.G.L. ch. 211D, § 11 (Establishment and Review of Compensation Rates) CPCS will be holding hearings in order to solicit input on the current rates of compensation for attorneys who accept appointments to represent indigent persons.  All persons who accept these appointments are invited to attend and to provide input on this issue.

March 6, 2018                                              March 13, 2018
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.                                           3:00-4:30 p.m.
Taunton Superior Courthouse                  Springfield Hall of Justice
9 Court Street                                              50 State Street
Taunton, MA  02780                                   Springfield, MA  01103

March 20, 2018
John Adams Courthouse
Great Hall, 2nd Floor Conference Suite
One Pemberton Square
Boston, MA  02108
4:00 -5:30 p.m.

Written Testimony may be emailed to Denise Simonini at:  dsimonini@publiccounsel.net

Please include subject line:  “Public Compensation Hearing”

Nominations Accepted for Duggan, Marshall, Donovan, Blitzman, Winchester, Liacos, Mellen, Addams and Souto-Goyette Awards

Nomination Process

The Committee will present the awards at an Awards Ceremony on April 26, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

All nominations should be submitted to Ms. Denise Simonini, Executive Assistant to the Chief Counsel, Committee for Public Counsel Services, 44 Bromfield Street, Boston, MA 02108, by fax to 617-988-8495 or email to dsimonini@publiccounsel.net.

Nominations must be submitted no later than February 23, 2018.  All nominations must include a written explanation of why the nominee should be honored.  

For a list of past award recipients, please check our website at https://www.publiccounsel.net/blog/2017/01/23/cpcs-past-award-recipients. Continue reading

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.