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) and a Prettyman fellowship at Georgetown Law, Lisa Kavanaugh joined CPCS in 2002. She spent 9 years handling superior court trials and appeals before becoming Director of the CPCS Innocence Program.
Lisa has supported dozens of innocence cases by winning and administering federal grant funds to pay for experts and investigators needed to establish innocence, often where the trial courts had already refused requests for funding. She has also formed partnerships with law schools, law firms, the New England Innocence Project and other institutions to improve the quality of post-conviction litigation.
In 2013 and 2014, Lisa led grant applications winning large awards from the National Institute for Justice. Through these awards, the CPCS Innocence Program, New England Innocence Project, Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices, Middlesex and Suffolk Superior Court Clerk’s Offices, and the State Police Crime Laboratory formed a unique collaboration to identify viable innocence claims in major felonies, test evidence in such cases, and adopt best practices for storing evidence for future analysis. This diverse group recently produced a “Best Practices Guide for Evidence Handlers” that should shape future evidence practices throughout the state.
Even in her personal life, married to defense attorney Chauncey Wood and mother of Carter (almost 13) and Isabel (age 10), Lisa took it upon herself to organize a fund-raising vehicle for innocence cases. Through this program, known as “Running for Innocence,” she has used various marathons and road races (including the New York Marathon in which she personally ran) to raise funds for experts and investigators in innocence cases.