Category Archives: Public Defender Division

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)

 

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.