Tag Archives: press

Farak Press Conference

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.

CPCS Alerts Media of Petition Seeking Relief from Convictions Tainted by Amherst Lab Chemist and the Misconduct of Two Assistant Attorneys General

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

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

CPCS HELPS UNITED WAY HELP THE HOMELESS

CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti was one of the guest speakers kicking off the United Ways’ Project Homeless Connect at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, MA on August 11, 2017.  He explained to the more than 350 staff and volunteers what CPCS does, saying, “We defend the accused; we demand justice; we stand for the voiceless; we fight for the rights of children and parents, and we protect the rights of clients who suffer with mental health issues and drug and/or alcohol use issues.”  He praised the crowd for volunteering and giving back to the community, and thanked them for their help.  He told them that you can show you care by posting on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, but people who really make a difference are people like you who give their time and effort to help others.

Staff from CPCS volunteered to help answer questions of the more than 250 homeless families that were expected to seek help from an array of service providers at the day-long event.  Other volunteers manned tables that offered housing, employment, and health and dental care, as well as legal advice from fellow legal volunteers from Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Law Reform.

Our CPCS colleagues volunteering at the day’s event were (in the photo in the back row from left to right) Chief Counsel Benedetti, Social Worker Sandra Caron from the Brockton CAFL Office, Atty. Jeff Richards the AIC from the YAD Roxbury Office, and Atty. Rosemarie Clinch from the Lowell CAFL Office, and (in the photo seated in the front row from left to right) Atty. David Satin from the Lowell CAFL Office, Atty. Maura Hardiman from the Brockton CAFL Office, and Atty. Connie Tran from the Malden District Court Office.

Lisa Kavanaugh’s Victory for Frederick Clay

INCREDIBLE!

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:

Massachusetts Court Decision Could Impact Up to a Thousand or More Similar Cases across the Country

CPCS Innocence Program Director Lisa Kavanaugh – Co-Counsel in Groundbreaking Case

On January 26, 2016, Judge Robert J. Kane overturned the 24-year-old rape conviction of George D. Perrot, ruling that scientific consensus indicates that the key, expert testimony of a FBI hair analyst would today be flawed and, therefore, inadmissible.

CPCS Innocence Program Director Lisa Kavanaugh is quoted in an article released by the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University saying, “Although the decision does not bind other courts, Judge Kane’s careful analysis ‘is very significant’ and could influence judges in other jurisdictions.”

To read the entire article visit:  http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/innocence-project/george-perrot/index.html

Women with Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders Will No Longer Be Sent to MCI Framingham – Governor Signs Bill that Gets Women the Treatment They Need and Deserve

A new law will go into effect 90 days after it was signed by Governor Baker on January 25, 2016. This law ends the civil commitment of women with alcohol and substance use disorders to prison.

Chief Counsel Benedetti said, “The practice of sending women to Framingham who are struggling with alcohol and substance use has ended.  This is a tremendous step that will aid many of our clients.  It is also encouraging to see that Massachusetts has come to understand that placing persons with alcohol and substance use disorders in facilities used to house persons convicted of criminal offenses should not and cannot replace those providing treatment services.” 

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, “By Feb. 9, fifteen beds at Taunton State Hospital will be available for women under the civil commitment process known as ‘Section 35’.  Twenty-eight new beds have opened at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, where nurses are still being hired.”  She continued, “There are six women now civilly committed for substance abuse at Framingham who will either move to the hospitals or end their commitment before then.”

A Legislative conference committee is continuing deliberations on the remaining provisions of the Opioid bill from which the new law was generated. 

Related news articles and the Governor’s press release on the matter can be found at:   http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/01/massachusetts_stops_sending_wo.html, http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20160125/NEWS/160127299, and http://www.mass.gov/governor/press-office/press-releases/fy2016/bill-signed-ending-civil-commitment-at-mci-framingham.html

Thanks to the Unsung Heroes for Keeping us Safe

By Michael A. Cohen   July 04, 2015

As Americans celebrate America’s 239th birthday Saturday, we should pause to thank those who defend and uphold our freedoms every day.

No, I don’t mean the armed forces. They certainly do their part — and their courage and service to the nation is unquestioned. But what about the unsung protectors of freedom? Like, for example, public defenders.

The right to counsel is a fundamental constitutional protection. For those who are arrested and can’t afford a lawyer — as we’ve all heard on countless episodes of “Law & Order’’ — “one will be appointed for you.” More often than not, the lawyer that Americans receive is an underpaid, understaffed defense attorney whose job it is to protect you from the awesome power of the state to take away your liberty. It doesn’t matter if one is guilty or innocent; the right to counsel is sacrosanct and so too is the responsibility of that lawyer to provide the best possible defense. None of this is meant to slight prosecutors, who have the duty of upholding the rule of law, or judges, whose job it is to ensure that the receipt of justice is swift, fair, and without prejudice. But when it comes to defending Americans’ most basic freedom from the state, it’s hard to think of a purer example than public defenders. Continue reading