Category Archives: Public Defender Division

CPCS Public Defender Receives MBA Access to Justice Award

DSC_2950 On May 7, 2015, the Massachusetts Bar Association presented Ben Evans, a supervising attorney in the Public Defender Division’s Fall River office with the prestigious Access to Justice Defender Award. After graduating from law school in 2005, Ben started as a staff attorney in the New Bedford office. Ben has been a supervising attorney in the Fall River office since 2011. Ben has been a mentor to many staff attorneys and law school interns.

Congratulations to Ben Evans, a public defender who inspires his colleagues to put their hearts and souls into the important work of representing poor people accused of crimes.

Here is the write-up that appeared in the MBA Annual Dinner program:

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In Memoriam: Pamela Webb

Pam Webb

On January 31, 2015, longtime CPCS employee, Pamela Jean Webb of Springfield, unexpectedly passed away. Pam worked as an Administrative Assistant at CPCS for 32 years.

Here is a fond remembrance of Pam from Alan Rubin, the Attorney in Charge of the Northampton office.

“After working for several years in the Springfield office, Pam came to Northampton as AA soon after this office opened and has been with us for 25 years. She really has been the heart and soul of this office. In our small office she has had to perform the roles of AA, secretary, receptionist, answering the phones, and many other tasks, but much more than this, her kindness and wisdom supported and guided all of us who have worked here. In our office we share case discussions amongst all of us and frequently Pam’s common sense insights helped focus the attorneys on the best way to proceed with difficult cases or problem clients.

Outside of the office Pam was a wife, mother, grandmother, and sibling. She was not only the matron of her own extended family but was always acting in that same role for neighbors, friends, and others who came ‘under her wing’. She was a community activist, working as a strong, determined, and persistent advocate on many issues of importance, but most particularly on issues involving education and on the needs of teen-age single mothers. Pam was planning to retire in a few months and was very much looking forward to future projects in these areas, as well as spending more time with her family. It is incredibly sad that she did not have the opportunity to accomplish these goals.

Everyone who would call or visit this office would comment on the very pleasant way that Pam would respond to callers. But this was not just a ‘phone persona’, she was like that in all her interactions with people—strangers as well as friends. This pleasant and calm personality was in no way an indication of weakness, as she was a very strong and forceful fighter for the things that mattered to her, as some recalcitrant school officials in Springfield learned to their discomfort.

Pam will be very much missed by her family, community, and those of us who have worked with her in Northampton.”

A memorial service, celebrating Pam’s life, was held on February 6, 2015. Many from the CPCS community attended the service.

CPCS is a “Champion of Justice”

On January 30, 2015, the Roger Williams University School of Law held its inaugural Champion of Justice dinner at the Providence Biltmore Hotel in Rhode Island. The law school presented the Committee for Public Counsel Services with its 2015 Community Partner Champion Award in recognition of CPCS’s “impact and accomplishments” in supporting the law school’s public interest programs. Roger Williams is one of twenty-four law schools in the country that has a mandatory pro bono requirement for graduation. Many RWU law students meet their requirement by interning at one of the CPCS offices in Bristol County and many become staff attorneys after graduation. Jennifer Coliflores is a staff attorney in the PDD Fall River office and a 2011 graduate of RWU Law. During a video presentation about the “Champion of Justice” awardees, Jennifer said that she discovered her passion for public defense during her three-month law school internship at CPCS. Two other staff PDD attorneys and graduates of RWU Law, Allyson Entz and David Ellison were featured in the video and echoed Jennifer’s expressions of passion and gratitude to RWU Law. Carlos Brito, the Attorney-in-Charge of the PDD Fall River office said: “[Roger Williams] has it right because they emphasize clinical programs and programs that allow students to actually practice the law.” Alan Zwirblis, the long time Attorney-in-Charge of the New Bedford office said: “We appreciate the acknowledgement and are gratified that we have been recognized by RWU Law as providing an excellent intern program for their students.

Tom Mello and Ben Evans, supervising attorneys for the New Bedford and Fall River Public Defender Division offices, accepted the Champion of Justice Award for CPCS. Many other CPCS staff attorneys attended the dinner and award ceremony.

Agreement Reached on Conditions at Bridgewater State Hospital

An independent monitoring group will open an office inside troubled Bridgewater State Hospital for the next two years to make sure that prison guards and clinicians continue reducing their use of isolation and physical restraints on mentally ill patients, under a deal with the state that averts a lawsuit.
Read entire Globe Article which includes a link to the agreement.