Category Archives: Criminal Defense

CPCS 2018 ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND
THE COMMITTEE FOR PUBLIC COUNSEL SERVICES
2018 ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY
TO HONOR MEMBERS OF OUR STAFF AND PRIVATE BAR
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Thurgood Marshall Award
Nancy T. Bennett
(to be awarded at the Annual Conference on May 15, 2018)

Jane Addams Award for Outstanding Social Service Accomplishments
Norman Beach

Edward J. Duggan Public Counsel Award for Outstanding Service
Richard D. LeBlanc

Edward J. Duggan Private Counsel Award for Outstanding Service
Jeanne Earley

Maura Mellen Administrative Professional Award
Bonnie E. Mullen

Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award
Karen Owen Talley

Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Advocacy Award
Ann Balmelli O’Connor

Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy
Ryan M. Schiff

Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy
Wendy S. Wayne

Maria Souto-Armand Goyette Investigator Award
Eddie Coren, Jr.
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RECEPTION TO FOLLOW AWARD CEREMONY

PLEASE RSVP HERE

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”

THE HISTORY OF THE ROXBURY DEFENDERS – February 13, 2018 – First Church Roxbury

Last Tuesday night I, and many other people, attended an event entitled “The History of the Roxbury Defenders” at the First Church in Roxbury.  The event was cosponsored by the Roxbury Historical Society and the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry.  It was great. A group of four former Roxbury Defenders, and the current Roxbury Defender Attorney-in-Charge,  spoke to a large group of neighborhood residents, and many CPCS people about their experiences as attorneys of color bringing equal justice and high quality legal services to an underserved community.  The speakers were former SJC Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, former SJC Associate Justice, Geraldine Hines, former Roxbury District Court Presiding Justice, Milton Wright, former Boston Juvenile Court Justice Leslie Harris and current Attorney-in-Charge of the Roxbury Defenders, Yolanda Acevedo.  The group was moderated by long-time State Representative, Byron Rushing.  Each speaker told of their experiences that illuminated the depth of the struggle they faced and continue to face fighting for equal justice in their community.  The history of the Roxbury Defenders is fascinating and inspiring.

Former SJC Chief Justice Roderick Ireland spoke first.  Justice Ireland was the first black person appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1997, more than 300 years after the formation of the Court.  The SJC was formed in 1692 as part of the charter for the Province of Massachusetts Bay.  In 1971, when Ireland was twenty-seven years old, he and Wallace Sherwood formed the original Roxbury Defenders. At the time, people in Roxbury received legal representation in criminal cases from the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, but there was no permanent public defender office in Roxbury. The Roxbury Defenders office was the first.  Sherwood and Ireland established the Roxbury Defenders in an energetic and inspired manner.  They hired a small staff and set out to be pioneers and great lawyers.  They challenged systemic issues.  At the time, pre-trial court hearings were not recorded.  Ireland and Sherwood brought a lawsuit, challenging the lack of recording. Although they did not win the case, their challenge was the first step towards the recording of all court proceedings.  Also, at that time, judges could interrupt and stop probable cause hearings if they determined they had enough evidence for probable cause.  These judicial interruptions often denied defense counsel the opportunity to complete cross-examination of prosecution witnesses or to present witnesses.  The Roxbury Defenders challenged this practice as a violation of the defendant’s right to call his own witnesses and the SJC agreed.   Aside from legal challenges, the early Roxbury Defenders sought to increase community awareness of legal issues.  They produced a local radio show, called “Legal Line”, on which they answered questions from listeners and discussed topical legal issues. By the time Ireland left the Defenders in 1974, they had established a social services department and published a weekly newspaper. They were handling about 1500 cases a year and the office eventually grew to about 12 lawyers.  Geraldine Hines and Margaret Burnham (first black woman judge in Massachusetts) were early staff attorneys.

Geraldine Hines, who was the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court, spoke about the struggle for black women attorneys in Boston in the early seventies. Justice Hines put it politely when she said: “there were cultural issues to fight through”.   She was a Roxbury Defender in 1973 when she was sitting in a Roxbury courtroom, waiting to have her case called.  She sat until her case was the only one that had not been called.  The judge asked her: “Ms. Hines, are you a lawyer?” Hines replied: “I have sat here all day and you haven’t asked anyone else that question.” She refused to answer the question and the judge left the bench without calling her case.

Milton Wright, another former Roxbury Defender, who went on to become the Presiding Justice in the Roxbury District Court, also spoke about the struggles he faced as a black attorney in Boston.  Wright spoke about a time, in the early 80s, when he was working as a Roxbury Defender.  He went up to the lock-up to see his client.  He was blocked by a court officer, who asked: “Who are you?”  He responded: “I’m Mr. Wright, who are you?”  Wright, who is also a professional singer – he is known as the “singing judge” – always wanted to be an entertainer but said that nothing compared to being a Roxbury Defender.

Leslie Harris, another Roxbury Defender, who became a juvenile judge, spoke about his path to the Roxbury Defenders.  Harris started out as a grade school teacher in Boston and was inspired by Judge David Nelson, who was the first black person to be appointed to the federal bench in Massachusetts.  He remembers Nelson urging teachers to become probation officers so they could assist underserved young people.  Harris became a probation officer but was inspired by watching attorneys in court.  He decided he wanted to become an attorney, specifically a Roxbury Defender.  He went to law school and was soon hired as a Roxbury Defender.

Yolanda Acevedo, the current Attorney-in-Charge of the Roxbury Defenders, spoke about her long career as a Roxbury Defender.   Yolanda has been a Roxbury Defender since 1982;  her entire legal career.  She has been the Attorney-in-Charge for the last five years.  Yolanda spoke about the inspiration she has continuously received from the Roxbury Defenders, especially in her early days, when she worked with John Amabile – currently a preeminent private criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts – and Martha Reeves – currently a federal Administrative Law Judge. Yolanda also spoke of her struggle as a woman Hispanic attorney, recounting that she was asked if she was the court interpreter.

As the evening began to wind down, moderator Byron Rushing stated that things had improved for poor black people in the criminal justice system.  Justice Hines pushed back.  She said racial disparity is still a major problem in the Massachusetts criminal justice system.  She cited Massachusetts’ poor record of racial disparity in sentencing and the persistence of implicit bias in all aspects of the criminal justice system.  Yolanda also mentioned the many injustices that continue, including the imposition of extraordinarily high bails that keep accused people locked up and the persistence of minimum mandatory sentences that prevent the client’s life story from being considered by the sentencing judge.

This event drew a large group of people from the community and from CPCS.  The Roxbury Defenders is an institution in Roxbury and is part of the proud history of CPCS and a tribute to its fight for equal justice.  Here are some photographs from the event.

CPCS Annual Training Conference

SAVE THE DATE:  The CPCS Annual Training Conference will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 8:00-5:00 at the DCU Center, 50 Foster Street, Worcester.

Ruth A. Potee, MD will be the keynote presenter on the topic of the Physiology of Addiction and Opioid Use.  She will explain the effects of opioid and other drug use on the brain, and present forceful arguments for long-term multi-faceted treatment models.  The keynote will be followed by workshop sessions on a wide variety of topics of interest to criminal, juvenile, child welfare and mental health practitioners, including guardianship, appellate advocacy, hot topics in criminal defense and CAFL cases, complex issues in superior court practice, as well as updates on the latest in immigration and forensics.  At midday, we will gather to hear remarks from Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti, who will also be presenting the Thurgood Marshall Award to Nancy T. Bennett.  A boxed lunch will be served.  The conference is approved for 6.5 CLEs.

Advance registration is required.  Our annual conference fills up quickly, so please register early to ensure a seat.  To register, please visit the Eventbrite Annual Conference registration page by clicking HERE.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact Bonnie Mullen at bmul...@publiccounsel.net.

Congratulations to the Essex County Bar Association Advocates – Updated

 


David Hallinan receiving the American Bar Association’s Harrison Tweed Award

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

Continue reading

MBA Recognizes CPCS Attorney With 2017 Access to Justice Defender Award

On May 4, 2017, Public Defender Division Staff Attorney Rebecca Jacobstein received the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 2017 Access to Justice Defender Award for her  work on behalf of clients affected by the misconduct of a state drug lab chemist in Western Massachusetts.

Rebecca and her husband and mother were present at the MBA Annual Dinner to receive the Award.

Congratulations Rebecca.  Thank you for the work you do for our clients.

You can listen to a podcast of Rebecca discussing her work on the fallout from the drug lab scandal HERE.

Here is a photograph of Rebecca receiving the award from MBA President Joseph Catalano.

2017 Access to Justice Award Winner: Rebecca Jacobstein

Here is the text of the nominating letter.

We nominate Attorney Rebecca A. Jacobstein of the Committee for Public Counsel Services for 2016-2017 Massachusetts Bar Association  Access to Justice Award – Defender Award.

Attorney Jacobstein is a CPCS staff attorney in the Appeals Unit of the Public Defender Division.

For the last three years, she has been relentless in the pursuit of justice for her clients and thousands of other people affected by the Sonja Farak Amherst Drug Lab scandal.

Sonja Farak was a chemist in the Department of Public Health’s State Laboratory in Amherst, Massachusetts. Ms. Farak apparently suffered from a drug addiction while employed as a drug analyst at the Amherst Lab.  She was convicted of stealing and tampering with drugs at the lab. An investigation, conducted by the Massachusetts Attorney General, has revealed that Ms. Farak routinely was high on drugs during her working hours at the drug lab.  As a result of Ms. Farak’s misconduct, many people have been convicted of crimes and sent to prison.  Initially, it was believed that Sonja Farak’s misconduct only affected a small number of cases.  Now, as a result of Rebecca Jacobstein’s work (together with Northampton attorney Luke Ryan), we know that it is likely that Ms. Farak’s misconduct occurred over the course of many years and affected thousands of people.

In 2014, Attorney Jacobstein had just begun working as a staff attorney in the CPCS Public Defender Division Appeals Unit. The Chief of the Appeals Unit assigned Attorney Jacobstein to represent, on direct appeal, two men who had been convicted of drug related crimes in which Sonja Farak conducted the chemical analysis: Erick Cotto and Jermaine Watt.  In the Cotto case, Attorney Jacobstein obtained direct appellate review in the Supreme Judicial Court.  The Cotto case turned out to be a watershed in the litigation involving the Amherst Drug Lab. On April 8, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion calling for a full investigation into the scope and timing of Farak’s misconduct. Commonwealth v. Cotto, 471 Mass. 97 (2015).  After the decision in Cotto, the Attorney General’s Office appointed former Superior Court Judge Peter Velis as a Special Assistant Attorney General to conduct the investigation.

Meanwhile, in the Watt case, in which direct appellate review was denied, Attorney Jacobstein stayed the appeal and brought a series of motion in the Superior Court seeking to document the timing and scope of Farak’s misconduct.  The efforts of Attorneys Jacobstein and Ryan were described in Slate:

Two defense attorneys, Luke Ryan and Rebecca Jacobstein, subpoenaed

Farak’s medical records to see if their clients had been affected, and found

that her drug use and theft had extended all the way back to 2004, eight

full years before the state claimed it began.  They contend that this new

evidence warrants a review of all 29,000 samples Farak claimed to have

tested during her career.  They also claim the government concealed this

“smoking gun” evidence from defense attorneys.

Dahlia Lithwick, Crime Lab Scandals Just Keep Getting Worse, Slate (Oct. 29, 2015).

On April 1, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office released its report on the scope and timing of Farak’s misconduct. The report described serious and significant misconduct on the part of Farak, beginning in late 2004 or early 2005 and lasting until Farak’s arrest in January, 2013.

At a hearing in Hampden Superior Court on June 6, 2016, Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless, the President of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, stated that all eleven District Attorneys agreed that Farak defendants were entitled to the same conclusive presumption of misconduct furnished to defendants affected by Annie Dookhan’s misconduct in the case of Commonwealth v. Scott, 467 Mass. 336 (2014).

A second report, conducted by retired Judge Velis concluded that there was “no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct or obstruction of justice” in matters related to the Farak case. Attorney Jacobstein and her colleagues have submitted documents and affidavits that challenge that conclusion.  They have filed motions to dismiss Farak convictions based on prosecutorial misconduct.  Evidentiary hearings into the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and the scope and effect of Farak’s wrongdoing on thousands of tainted convictions will begin on December 12, 2016, in Hampden Superior Court.  These hearings have the potential to reveal prosecutorial misconduct and lead to the reversal of thousands of tainted drug convictions.  These hearings are happening, in large part, because of the outstanding legal work of Attorney Jacobstein, who took her early assignment to two direct appeals and turned it into a zealous pursuit of justice for thousands of people.

CPCS Honors the Best in Indigent Defense – 2017 Awards Ceremony

On Tuesday, April 25, CPCS had the pleasure of honoring exceptional members of our community – attorneys from the public and private counsel divisions, as well as a social worker, investigator and administrative professional – who work tirelessly to insure that CPCS meets our mission:  to fight for equal justice and human dignity by supporting our clients in achieving their legal and life goals; to zealously advocate for the rights of individuals; and to promote just public policy to protect the rights of all.

Gathered at the John Adams Courthouse were honorees, members of the staff and private bar, friends, family and clients of the honorees, as well as many Committee members.   The evening was aptly described by Committee Member Arnold Rosenfeld, “an outstanding demonstration of the spirit, diversity, and extraordinary competence of the full time staff and the members of the private bar who carry out the responsibilities of CPCS.  Those who received awards … all demonstrated an exceptional commitment to justice.  They all had remarkable stories to tell.”

The 2017 CPCS Award Recipients:

DEREGE B. DEMISSIE, Thurgood Marshall Award.   The Thurgood Marshall Award honors a person or persons who champion the cause of zealous representation for the poor, and the right to effective assistance of counsel for all.

Derege Demissie began his law career at the firm of Grayer & Dilday, where he concen-trated in immigration, civil rights and other civil litigation. Derege joined CPCS in 1998 as (continue reading here)

SARAH E. SCHOOLEY, Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Award.    The Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Advocacy Award honors a staff member or a private attorney who, through his or her zealous advocacy and extraordinary commitment to children and parents in care and protection and other Massachusetts child welfare cases, is a model for other advocates seeking to protect the rights of children and parents.

Since 1990, Sarah Schooley has been providing high-quality representation to parents and  (continue reading here)

LISA M. KAVANAUGH, Carol Donovan Exceptional Advocacy Award.  The Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy is presented to the lawyer, public or private, whose representation of poor people facing the awesome power of the state is most reminiscent of Carol’s fierce commitment to their vigorous and effective representation, and the cause of equal justice for all.

After a stellar academic career (Yale, summa cum laude; Harvard Law School, cum laude)  (continue reading here)

ANDREW S. CROUCH, Edward J. Duggan Award For Outstanding Service – Private Counsel. The Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Service, Private Counsel is given to an Assigned Private Counsel and is named for Edward J. Duggan, who served continuously from 1940 to 1997 as a member of the Voluntary Defenders Committee, the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.  The award has been presented each year      (continue reading here)

ANGEL RODRIGUEZ, Maria Souto-Armand Goyette Investigator Award.  The Maria Souto-Armand Goyette Award honors a staff investigator for outstanding investigative work. Maria Souto was an indefatigable CPCS investigator in the Boston office.  Armand Goyette, the first investigator at the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, was recognized as a consummate criminal defense investigator who provided outstanding service for over 25 years.  (continue reading here)

JESSIE ALTAGRACIA BRITO, 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. The award recognizes that administrative staff members perform many critical roles in the provision of zealous representation to CPCS clients.

Jessie Brito, the consummate dedicated, intelligent, hardworking, collaborative colleague,  (continue reading here)

BRANDON L. CAMPBELL, Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award.  The Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award recognizes a public defender or private attorney whose legal advocacy on behalf of persons involved in civil and/or criminal mental health proceedings best exemplifies zealous advocacy in furtherance of all clients’ legal interests.

Brandon Campbell has all the qualities of a stellar legal advocate.  Dogged determination  (continue reading here)

CYNTHIA NICHOLLS, 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 his or her advocacy, support, and dedication.  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 (continue reading here)

LAURA CHRISMER EDMONDS, Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award.  The Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy is presented to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to juvenile rights, which is the hallmark of Judge Blitzman’s long career as an advocate.  The award honors an advocate who has exhibited both extraordinary dedication and excellent performance to assure that children accused of criminal conduct, or otherwise at risk, are treated fairly and with dignity in the courtroom, in the community, (continue reading here)

JOANNE DALEY, Edward J. Duggan Award For Outstanding Service – Public Defender.  The Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Service, Public Defender is given to a Public Defender and is named for Edward J. Duggan, who served continuously from 1940 to 1997 as a member of the Voluntary Defenders Committee, the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.  The award has been presented each year since 1988 to the public defender who best represents zealous advocacy — the central principle governing the representation of indigents in Massachusetts. (continue reading here)

 

Recognition Well-Deserved – Atty. Anne Goldbach Receives the 2016 MACDL Clarence Gideon Award

Anne GoldbachOn June 14, 2016, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL) presented our colleague, Atty. Anne C. Goldbach, with the Clarence Gideon Award, an honor not awarded every year, but presented to only those worthy to be recognized as champions of the noblest principle that all persons shall stand equal before the law.   Continue reading