On February 13, 2018, Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti testified before the Joint Ways and Means Committee at their annual budget hearing in Worcester. The written testimony that was submitted along with supporting documentation can be found here: W&M FY 2019 Written Testimony.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 http://www.publiccounsel.net/award-recipients-1998-2018/
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.
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.
Upon filing a petition at the SJC that seeks relief for the thousands whose cases were tainted by Amherst Drug Lab Chemist Sonia Farak and further exacerbated by the misconduct of two assistant attorneys general, CPCS sent out the following press release:
CPCS Files Petition Seeking Relief from Convictions Tainted by Amherst Lab Chemist and the Misconduct of Two Assistant Attorneys General
(Boston) – Today the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) filed a petition in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on behalf of thousands of potential clients, requesting that the Court dismiss with prejudice every case tainted by the misconduct uncovered recently at the Amherst Drug Laboratory by chemist, Sonia Farak. This action comes after the dismissal of thousands of other convictions tainted by another state laboratory employee, Annie Dookhan. Continue reading
The following article on the Essex County Bar Advocate Program being named this year’s recipient of the American Bar Association’s Harrison Tweed Award appeared in The Salem News on June 28, 2017: http://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/local-legal-assistance-program-receives-national-award/article_825265e8-c83e-5c41-9873-f47c655446ed.html
CONGRATULATIONS to our colleague, Atty. Lisa Kavanaugh, Director of the CPCS Innocence Program, and her co-counsel, Atty. Jeff Harris of the Boston law firm Good, Cormier, Schneider and Fried, on their victory in convincing the Commonwealth to vacate the conviction of Frederick Clay, convicted of first degree murder in 1981.
Clay was convicted on the evidence of two eye witnesses who confirmed his identity only after being hypnotized by police investigators and shown the same array of photos several times. New identification science reveals that this type of identification is profoundly flawed. In addition, other witness statements that should have led police to investigate other suspects who more accurately fitted descriptions of the perpetrators were never followed up by them or by Clay’s trial attorney.
Below are links to some of the media reports that followed this incredible outcome, as well as to the press release issued by CPCS:
- CPCS Press Release
Congratulations to Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti on receipt of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award, which “recognizes an individual or group whose tremendous efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system.” Continue reading
Below is a link to a PDF of the piece in Lawyers Weekly from Max Stern and Michael Keating.
The Impressive Top-to-Bottom Makeover of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System http://nationswell.com/massachusetts-juvenile-criminal-justice-makeover/