Category Archives: Chief Counsel’s Office

Good Work of Public Defenders Leads to Outstanding Results in the SJC

Recently, the outstanding efforts of public defenders – and assigned counsel – have led to great results for our clients in the Supreme Judicial Court.  This Tuesday, the SJC issued two groundbreaking decisions expanding access to post-conviction forensic analysis under G.L. c. 278A, in Commonwealth v. Williams and Commonwealth v. Putnam.  And just two weeks earlier, the Court decided in Commonwealth v. Feliz and Commonwealth v. Johnson that the attachment of a GPS monitor is a constitutionally significant search that cannot be imposed on a mandatory basis.

Lisa Kavanaugh, Director of the CPCS Innocence Program, submitted an amicus brief in Williams and Putnam, along with exoneree Dennis Maher and attorneys from the New England Innocence Project and the Boston College Innocence Project.  Both cases were argued by Merritt Schnipper, who was assigned counsel.  The SJC adopted the arguments made by the defendants and amici, holding that a claim of factual innocence can be asserted by a defendant who claims that no crime occurred.  As a result of the hard work of the advocates involved, Massachusetts has become one of a very small number of jurisdictions that recognize self-defense as a form of factual innocence.

David Rangaviz of the Public defender Division Appeals Unit represented Mr. Feliz in the SJC, in his appeal from the mandatory imposition of a GPS monitor pursuant to G.L. c. 256, §47, following his conviction on child pornography charges.  Mr. Feliz was represented in Suffolk Superior Court by Public Defender Division staff attorney,  Alyssa Hackett.  The SJC held that the imposition of the GPS monitor is a search that cannot comport with article 14 unless a judge makes an individualized determination that the Commonwealth’s interest in imposing the GPS monitor outweighs the privacy invasion occasioned by such monitoring.  Given the record establishing the very onerous nature of a GPS device (Alyssa presented evidence showing that Mr. Feliz’s device frequently lost signal, often requiring him to leave his workplace to walk around outside – or risk arrest), his perfect compliance with probation, and his low risk of re-offense, the SJC struck the probation condition subjecting him to GPS monitoring.  Credit is also due to Ryan Schiff, former CPCS Director of Juvenile Appeals and Special Litigation staff attorney, who worked with Alyssa to craft the motion in the trial court.   Thanks to the efforts of these dedicated public defenders, many of our clients will be freed from their electronic shackles.  This case represents a much-needed departure from our “one size fits all” treatment of people convicted of sex offenses.

Thank you and congratulations to Lisa, Merritt, Dave, Alyssa and Ryan!  And thank you to entire staff for your tireless work arguing and preserving these types of issues at every level to make systemic change possible!

 

2019 Annual Awards Invitation

 

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND THE COMMITTEE FOR PUBLIC COUNSEL SERVICES
2019 ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY
TO HONOR MEMBERS OF OUR STAFF AND PRIVATE BAR

_________________________________________________________________

JOHN ADAMS COURTHOUSE, PEMBERTON SQUARE, BOSTON
WEDNESDAY APRIL 24, 2019
5:00-8:00 p.m.
________________________________________________________________

Thurgood Marshall Award
Don Bronstein

Edward J. Duggan Public Counsel Award for Outstanding Service
Yolanda Acevedo

Edward J. Duggan Private Counsel Award for Outstanding Service
Lois J. Martin

Maura Mellen Administrative Professional Award
Sarah Pegus

Jane Addams Award for Outstanding Social Service Accomplishments
Kelsey Haggett

Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award
Debra S. Kornbluh

Maria Souto-Armand Goyette Investigator Award
Ami Rose Jackson

Teresa McParland Award for Operational Excellence
Karin Doss

Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy
Robert F. Hennessy & Merritt Schnipper

Carol A. Donovan Award for Exceptional Advocacy
Kate Frame

Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Advocacy Award
Carol Rosensweig

_____________________________ 

RECEPTION TO FOLLOW AWARD CEREMONY

2019 Nominations for Annual Awards

Nomination Process

The Committee will present the awards at an Awards Ceremony on April 24, 2019 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 by email to dsimonini@publiccounsel.net.

Nominations must be submitted no later than February 22, 2019.  All nominations must include a written explanation of why the nominee should be honored.

The Committee is pleased to announce that an award designed to honor excellence of Operations staff will be presented for the first time at the 2019 Awards Ceremony.  The Teresa McParland Award for Operations Excellence honors Terry’s almost 40 years of dedicated service to CPCS, in a career that spanned the Finance, Human Resources and IT Units. 

For a list of past award recipients, please check our website at https://www.publiccounsel.net/award-recipients-1998-2018/.

Awards

The Teresa McParland Award for Operational Excellence is presented to a person who demonstrates dedication, creativity and passion to improving agency operations in service to our clients through enhancing agency performance and accountability.  These attributes were all hallmarks of Terry McParland during her CPCS career. The award honors Operations staff who exhibit extraordinary dedication, excellent performance, vision, and creativity in improving the services, systems, quality of life, efficiency, and environment provided to agency staff, clients, and private counsel.

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 their 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 in establishing the field of social work and the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize.      

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, and in the custody of the state. 

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.

The Edward J. Duggan Award for Outstanding Service award is given to both a Public Defender and Private Counsel attorney 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 is presented each year to the public defender and private attorney who best represent zealous advocacy – the central principle governing the representation of indigents in Massachusetts. 

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

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.

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. 

The Maria SoutoArmand Goyette Investigator 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.

The Margaret Winchester Award for Child Welfare Advocacy honors a staff member or a private attorney who, through their 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.

Committee Meeting Dates – CY 2019

All meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held on the third Wednesday of the month except where noted.

January 15, 2019 (Tuesday starting at 11:00 a.m.)
February 20, 2019 February 26, 2019 (Tuesday)
March 20, 2019
April 17, 2019
May 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
August – NO MEETING
September 18, 2019
October 16, 2019
November 20, 2019
December 18, 2019

YAD Staff Recognized for their Efforts Fighting Racism Across the State

It is my pleasure to share with everyone the news that three staff members from YAD will receive awards at the Annual Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) Awards Breakfast on September 20, 2018 (see attached flyer).  JDAI is a national juvenile justice initiative that focuses on reducing the unnecessary and harmful use of secure detention for juveniles.  It has a special focus on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice population.  Dozens of YAD staff members and private attorneys participate in JDAI activities on a regular basis. Continue reading

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.

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