CPCS Certification Training to Represent Children in Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) Cases to be held February 12 & 13, 2019

The Children and Family Law Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking qualified attorneys to represent children in Child Requiring Assistance cases in the Juvenile Court. Admission to the CRA panel is by application only and requires completion of a two-day training. Applicants must be members of the Massachusetts Bar, or be admitted to the Bar of another state and be eligible to practice law in Massachusetts. The CRA Certification Training will take place on February 12 & 13, 2019 (snow day February 14th) at Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester MA 01608. The application deadline is January 7, 2019.

The application and more information can be found here.

Guardianship Certification Training in Fall River and Holyoke

CAFL is presenting a one-day certification training for attorneys wishing to represent children and parents in guardianship of minor proceedings in the Probate and Family Court. The training is open to all CAFL attorneys in good standing on the care and protection trial panel who have graduated from the CAFL mentor program. The trainings will take place in Fall River on January 22, 2019 at the CPCS office at 1822 North Main Street, Suite #205, Fall River, MA 02720 and in Holyoke on March 18, 2019 at Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Ave, Holyoke. For CAFL trial panel attorneys who are interested in the training but have not yet graduated from the mentor program, please email caflattorney@publiccounsel.net indicating your interest and include your full name, BBO number, the courts from which you are willing to accept assignments, the name of your mentor, and a brief description of any experience you have in the Probate and Family Court. If you are already certified to take Guardianships in the Probate and Family Court and want to come to the training for a refresher, you are welcome. If you are not sure if you are certified to take guardianship cases, please contact Rita Caso at rcaso@publiccounsel.net to find out.

To register for the January 22 Training in Fall River go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/training-to-represent-children-and-parents-in-guardianship-of-minor-proceedings-in-the-probate-and-tickets-53437965393

To register for the March 18 Guardianship Training in Holyoke go to:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/training-to-represent-children-and-parents-in-guardianship-of-minor-proceedings-in-the-probate-and-tickets-53656793915

CAFL Trial Panel Certification Training

The Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking qualified attorneys to represent children and indigent parents in care and protection/termination of parental rights and child requiring assistance cases in the Juvenile Court. The Certification Training will be held March 25-26, April 1-2, April 8-9 in Springfield, MA followed by a One Day Mock Hearing on either April 23 or 25 at various locations throughout the state.

 There is a significant shortage of CAFL lawyers in central and western Massachusetts. The need is most critical in the Springfield Juvenile Court. As a result, we are particularly interested in applicants who are able to accept CAFL appointments in Springfield. Admission to the CAFL trial panel is by application only. Applicants must be members of the Massachusetts Bar or be admitted to the Bar of another state and be eligible to practice law in Massachusetts. All attorneys who accept CPCS assignments are required to maintain malpractice insurance.We will give preference to attorneys who commit to practicing in central and western Massachusetts and to attorneys who submit completed applications by Friday, February 8, 2019. We will continue to accept applications after that date, particularly from those planning to practice in western Massachusetts.The application can be found here.

Appellate Panel Certification Training

The Committee for Public Counsel Services is accepting applications for the Children and Family Law (“CAFL”) Appellate Panel Certification Training on April 29, 30 and May 1, 2019 in Worcester. Applicants must have a demonstrated proficiency in legal research and writing and at least one of the following: two years of child welfare trial experience, primary authorship of two or more appellate briefs in other subjects, a recent judicial clerkship, substantial editing experience for a law journal, publication of a law journal article, or other substantial research and writing experience. Admission to the training is competitive and not all applicants will be admitted. All admitted applicants must attend the three-day CAFL appellate training program on April 29, April 30, and May 1, 2019 at the offices of Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.

To be considered, you must submit a completed application by March 22, 2019. The application and more information can be found here.

New Juvenile Court Rules and Time Standards Go Into Effect November 5, 2018

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued new Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children, which go into effect on November 5, 2018. The new 2018 rules will replace the 2007 Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children. Along with these Rules, the Juvenile Court has issued new Standing Order 2-18 governing Time Standards for care and protection, CRA and delinquency cases.  The new time standards also go into effect November 5, 2018.  See below for links to the new Rules and Standing Order, along with a memorandum summarizing the new Rules prepared by CAFL’s Ann Narris.

New Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children

Juvenile Court Standing Order 2-18, Time Standards

CPCS Memorandum Summarizing the New Juvenile Court Rules

Childhood Trauma And Its Lifelong Health Effects More Prevalent Among Minorities – NPR

NPR Reported on Monday about a new study that show the impact of childhood trauma on Lifelong health

When researchers first discovered a link in the late 1990s between childhood adversity and chronic health problems later in life, the real revelation was how common those experiences were across all socioeconomic groups.

But the first major study to focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was limited to a single healthcare system in San Diego. A study published Monday in JAMA Pediatricsthe largest nationally representative study to date on ACEs — confirms that these experiences are universal, yet highlights some disparities among socioeconomic groups. People with low-income and educational attainment, people of color and people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual had significantly higher chance of having experienced adversity in childhood.

Full Story

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

MLW Top Women of the Law

Congratulations to our colleague Atty. Rebecca A. Jacobstein and former colleague Atty. Kelli L. Porges for being among those to be honored by Mass Lawyers Weekly as Top Women of Law 2018.  Rebecca and Kelli are among 50 women attorneys being celebrated for their “outstanding achievements….by exceptional women lawyers who have made tremendous professional strides and demonstrated great accomplishments in the legal field…”[1]

Atty. Jacobstein is a CPCS staff attorney in the Appeals Unit of the Public Defender Division and has been one of the lead lawyers in the on-going litigation probing the misconduct of former Amherst Drug Lab chemist, Sonja Farak.  She joined the Appeals Unit in April, 2014.

Atty. Porges was a CPCS staff attorney, most recently with the Boston Superior Court Trial Unit, where she put her incredible courtroom skills to work in gaining acquittals for clients charged with murder.  She joined CPCS in August 2004, was certified to take murder cases in 2012, and recently left the agency to be a partner at the law firm of Iglehart & Porges.

The Top Women of Law 2018 event will be held on Thursday, October 18, 2918.  Anyone who would like to attend can visit the following website for more details:  https://masslawyersweekly.com/top-women-of-law-2018/honorees/.



[1] https://masslawyersweekly.com/top-women-of-law-2018/



Staff Counsel Posting for MHLD in Boston


The Mental Health Litigation Division (MHLD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is now accepting applications to its fall 2018 Civil Commitment Certification Training.

In Massachusetts, people experiencing psychiatric distress can be involuntarily detained at psychiatric facilities, committed for up to six months, and treated with medications against their wishes. This substantial deprivation of liberty entitles these clients to court-appointed counsel to make sure that all their rights under the law are protected.

There is a great need for certified attorneys to represent these clients and it is rewarding work. Effective advocacy by attorneys can make a real difference in these cases. You will get client contact, litigation experience, and the satisfaction of knowing that the most vulnerable people in the Commonwealth had a lawyer to fight for their rights.

This certification training will be held at Community Legal Aid in Worcester on October 22, 23, 24 (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day), and November 5, 2018. November 5th will be a half-day mock hearing (you will be scheduled for either morning or afternoon, to be determined).
Please download the application from our website here: MHLD Panel Application

The deadline to apply is September 21, 2018. Applicants to the program must be accepted before registering. The cost of the training is $125.00.

For more information about the Mental Health Litigation Division Civil Commitment Certification Training, please contact Miriam Ruttenberg at (617) 910-5782, mruttenberg@publiccounsel.net or Paulette Marie at (617) 910-5844, pmarie@publiccounsel.net.

Reporting tool to capture video conferencing issues experienced during client court hearings.

In response to the 2017 CPCS/Suffolk University survey regarding trial court video conferencing (VC), the Trial Court has established a Working Group to address various issues associated with VC.  Technological malfunctions are one focus for the Working Group.

CPCS’s representatives on the Working Group seek to gather data so the Working Group can identify specific courts and correctional institutions that tend to experience malfunctions. This data will allow CPCS to work with the courts to remediate malfunctions.

We ask anyone witnessing a VC malfunction, or issue related to video conferencing, during a client hearing to report the malfunction at https://bit.ly/2JRdePu . 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

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