Roxbury Defender Receives Community Leadership Award

Roxbury Defender Kristyn Henry received an award from the North Shore Black Women’s Association for being a community leader.

Kristyn Henry, a trial attorney with the Roxbury Defenders Unit, was honored by the North Shore Black Women’s Association for being a community leader who exemplifies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “ideals, passion and commitment to service.”

Henry received the award during the NSBWA’s 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon on Saturday afternoon in Malden.

“My clients are poor, marginalized, unfairly targeted, and live in areas that are significantly over policed,” Henry said during her acceptance speech. “But my clients are also strong men and women, hard workers, immigrants, influencers, mothers, fathers, and so much more than the statistics and categories where they are regularly placed.”

Since becoming a public defender, Henry has dedicated her practice to representing people of color, immigrants, and young people who otherwise cannot afford counsel.

“As an attorney, I know that there are much higher paying and more prestigious jobs that I could have,” she said. “But I chose to be a public defender and I love what I do. I chose to exclusively represent the indigent population in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.”

Outside of court, Henry has been a mentor to young people within her community; including high school students, college students, paralegals, and law students; through various internships, mentorship programs, and work-study programs. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at Northshore Community College where she teaches various courses in its Paralegal Studies program.

“As a professor I have been blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many young people who are interested in some aspect of the legal field,” she said. “I challenge them to do better than me, do better than the attorneys before me. Because I truly believe that we all have the capacity to change the world: One small step at a time.”

Henry said she is proud of her Guyanese heritage and culture, and understands how being a young woman of color from a family of immigrants puts her in a unique position to connect with many of her clients on a meaningful level.

“Years ago, there is no way that I would be standing here before you today as a young black woman attorney and professor,” she said. “But the progress we have made is not enough. There is still so much racism, prejudice, inequality, and injustice in our communities and I believe that it is our duty, my duty, to continue to put forth my greatest effort to make change, no matter how small.”

Henry is an active member of the Massachusetts Black Lawyer’s Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She holds a Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, FL where she received a Governor’s scholarship.

Do you want to help children and parents in crisis? Apply for our Springfield training!

For the last few years, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has intervened in lives of Massachusetts families at an alarming rate. Most of these families cannot afford to hire attorneys. Fortunately, in Massachusetts there is a right to counsel for parents and children in state intervention cases. Unfortunately, there are not enough certified attorneys who have the time and training to zealously represent all these families in need.  The Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is inviting members of the private bar to apply for admission to the CAFL Trial Panel.  We are looking to increase the number of attorneys handling state intervention cases (typically referred to as “care and protection” or “termination of parental rights” cases) in the Massachusetts Juvenile Court. Because the shortage is most acute in western Massachusetts, we are particularly interested in applicants who are able to accept CAFL appointments in those courts.

Attorneys who are interested in pursuing this opportunity can find more information about the training and the link to submit your application here.

Here is some information that might help attorneys decide whether they are interested in joining this panel of litigators.

  1. Certification Training – We will be presenting a training in Springfield beginning March 30, 2020. Successful completion of the training will enable attorneys to be certified to accept assignments in state intervention cases. The training will take place on March 30-31, April 6-7, and April 13-14. Because this is New England, we have reserved April 2 as a snow date! One-day mock hearings will be scheduled on April 28, 29 and 30, 2020. If selected, participants must keep all three mock hearing dates open until assigned to a specific date and place for the mock hearing. The mock hearings will be located throughout the state. The training will be open to attorneys of all levels of experience, but trial experience is preferred.
  2. Assignment – Care and Protection/Termination of Parental Rights cases begin, most often, with a petition being filed ex parte by the Department of Children and Families. The attorney’s responsibilities for the case begin immediately upon assignment, as he or she must prepare for a potential emergency custody hearing to take place within 72 hours of any ex parte order (the “72-hour hearing”). These cases frequently continue to be court involved for 15 months or more. Children Requiring Assistance cases (or status offenses) are usually concluded within 15 months.
  3. Compensation – Private attorneys are paid at the rate of $55/hour for their work on Care and Protection/Termination of Parental Rights cases.
  4. Expectations Regarding Performance – Attorneys are required to abide by CAFL’s performance standards and meet other requirements set forth in CPCS’s Assigned Counsel Manual, found at https://www.publiccounsel.net/assigned-counsel-manual/.
  5. Support – Each new member of CAFL’s private attorney panel is assigned a mentor. The mentor is available to support the attorney for the first couple of years of practice, to introduce the attorney to court personnel and others, to assist in learning local practices, to attend initial court hearings, and to provide other support and assistance.

CPCS is committed to ensuring that the panel of attorneys accepting CAFL assignments is sensitive to the diversity of the client population it serves.  We will give preference to attorneys who commit to practicing in western Massachusetts and to attorneys who submit completed applications by Friday, February 14, 2020.  We encourage interested attorneys to apply early and not wait until the deadline.

 

 

 

Committee Meeting Agenda – January 16, 2020 Meeting

  1. Approval of minutes of the December 18, 2019 meeting
  2. Amicus Requests:
    1. Commonwealth v. Long, SJC-12868
    2. Commonwealth v. Rambert, 2018-P-1282
    3. Commonwealth v. J.S., A Juvenile, 2019-P-1645
    4. Four Co-Defendant Cases:  SJ-2019-0511; SJC-0513; SJ-2019-0512; SJ-2019-0510
    5. Commonwealth v. Bohigian, SJC-12858 (Reporting Only)
  3. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  4. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  5. Chief Counsel Report

Calendar Year 2020 Committee Meeting Dates

All meetings will being at 5:30 p.m. in the CPCS Conference Rooms at 44 Bromfield Street, Boston, MA.  The meetings will be held on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening as noted.

January 16 (Thursday)
February 19 (Wednesday)
February 25 (Tuesday)
March 19 (Thursday)
April 16 (Thursday)
May 20 (Wednesday)
June 17 (Wednesday)
July 15 (Wednesday)
August (NO MEETING)
September 16 (Wednesday)
October 14 (Wednesday)
November 18 (Wednesday)
December 16 (Wednesday)

CPCS Editorial: Attacks on Bail Decisions Don’t Tell Full Story

Public officials have been chastising New Bedford judges for their bail decisions – using words like “liberal” and “limited” to describe their tendencies.

Committee for Public Counsel Services leadership felt the need to push back

Randy Gioia, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Public Defender Division for CPCS, wrote an editorial for the New Bedford Standard-Times indicating that public officials are not explaining what bail really is and, in doing so, are confusing the public:

Missing from this media campaign is a degree of nuance — one where trained attorneys explain to the public what bail is in the first place. Judges are forbidden from speaking to the press, and if law enforcement officials actually told the whole story, the public would know that terms like “lenient” and “liberal” are buzzwords used to pave over an otherwise productive conversation.

The purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant comes to court after they’re released from jail.

Bail is not a form of punishment. It is not society’s way of exacting revenge for the alleged commission of a crime, and there is a very important reason for that — the Constitutional presumption of innocence.

Read the full column here.

John Lozada Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

John Lozada, Equity and Inclusion Director for CPCS.

John Lozada, the Equity and Inclusion Director for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, was named this year’s recipient of the Lucia Mayerson-David Lifetime Achievement Award at El Jolgorio Navideño, the largest Latino holiday gala in New England.

Lozada was given the award during a reception on Dec. 14.

“A trailblazer in Boston and throughout the commonwealth, John Lozada has been a tireless advocate for the Latino Community throughout his impressive career,” reads a statement, announcing the award. “A successful attorney, John has used his talents and knowledge to advocate for more Latino judges on the federal bench with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to champion civil rights at MassDOT, and now ensuring that CPCS is an inclusive environment for its staff and clients.”

Money raised through El Jolgorio Navideño support the TAG Latino Program of UMass Boston, which has provided a culturally sustaining pipeline to college for Latino students since 1985. The event is put on by the TAG Association, Inc., nonprofit organization that serves the Latino community of Greater Boston.

Certification Training to Represent Children in Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) Cases

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.  All attorneys who accept CPCS assignments are required to maintain malpractice insurance.

The CRA Certification Training will take place on February 26th & 27th, 2020 at Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. We ask all applicants to also hold February 28th as a snow date. The training will run 9:00 – 5:00 each day.  Attorneys currently on the CPCS list to represent youth in delinquency proceedings may have portions of the training waived (i.e., sessions on adolescent development, school law, etc.).

Applications must be received no later than January 13, 2020.

More information and the application can be found here.

DO YOU WANT TO PROTECT THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF PEOPLE FACING GUARDIANSHIP PETITIONS? APPLY TO JOIN THE MENTAL HEALTH LITIGATION DIVISION TRIAL PANEL AND REPRESENT RESPONDENTS IN PROBATE COURT.

The Mental Health Litigation Division (MHLD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is now accepting applications to the spring 2020 Guardianship Certification Training.

A guardianship is a substantial deprivation of liberty – under guardianship the person can no longer legally make their own decisions about many issues, including where to live, what medical treatment to accept or refuse, and other decisions adults make every day. Because of this significant infringement on civil rights, respondents are entitled to court-appointed counsel. 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 some of 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 March 16, 19, 20 (8:45 a.m. to 5:00 each day) and March 31, 2020. March 31st will be mock trials (schedule to be determined depending on number of accepted applicants).

The deadline to apply is February 10, 2020. There is no cost to apply, but the cost of the training upon registration is $125.00. Applicants must be accepted into the program in order to register. We will notify everyone of acceptance status after February 10, 2020; please allow up to ten (10) days after the application deadline before inquiring about status.

Note that it is expected that you will promptly commence your mental health practice and to take at least one mental health case within six (6) months of successful completion of this certification program.

Please click here to apply

In order to submit your application you must press Submit at the bottom left hand side, below the signature. If you are not able to complete the application at one time you may press the Save button, on the bottom right hand side, and you will receive a link to use when you are ready to complete the application.

For more information about the Mental Health Litigation Division Guardianship Certification Training or for questions about the application, please contact Miriam Ruttenberg at (617) 910-5782 or mruttenberg@publiccounsel.net

CPCS Staffers ‘Adopt’ 35 Kids for Holidays

Staff at the Committee for Public Counsel Services “adopted” 35 kids in partnership with Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Each child will get a gift for the holiday season.

Staff from the Springfield office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services “adopted” 35 kids for the holidays in partnership with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).

Each CPCS staffer received a holiday wish list from a child and then shopped for and wrapped the gifts. The gifts will be picked up by MSPCC and distributed by clinicians assigned to the children.

“The children involved in MSPCC’s programs deal with some of the most serious problems you can imagine. As public defenders, we are committed to supporting the most marginalized members of our community. We are grateful for this opportunity to let these kids know that our hearts are with them,” said Trevor Maloney, a staff attorney with the CPCS Springfield office, who helped organize the gift drive. “I’m proud to work with so many generous attorneys, investigators, social service advocates, and administrative support staff. We hope the clothes, toys, books, and other gifts bring some holiday cheer to these kids and their families.”

CPCS attorneys, investigators, social service advocates, and administrative assistants with the Youth Advocacy Division, the Children and Family Law Division and the Public Defender Division all participated.

The MSPCC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of children and families.

Appeals Court: Hearsay Not Enough to Revoke Probation

A juvenile should not have had their probation revoked based entirely “on unreliable hearsay testimony from a Department of Children and Families case worker,” the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled. 

During an Oct. 2, 2017 probation revocation hearing, a DCF case worker testified that the juvenile was not cooperating with the department and “ha[d] broken all the rules,” according to the decision.

However, the case worker was not assigned to the juvenile’s case when the alleged violations occurred. The case worker also admitted that his testimony was entirely based on conversations with a third party and notes from the juvenile’s DCF case file.

“This case is a simple case of classic, multiple-level, hearsay,” said Benjamin L. Falkner, a Committee for Public Counsel Services bar advocate, during oral arguments in March. “It does not come close to meeting the requirements of being substantially reliable.”

The Appeals Court agreed, and on Tuesday reversed a lower court judge’s order revoking probation and imposing a sentence on the juvenile.

“We … conclude that the testimony from the case worker lacked the ‘indicia of reliability’ required to support finding that the juvenile violated his probation,” Appeals Court Justice Edward McDonough wrote. “Significantly, the case worker’s testimony lacked the requisite factual detail.”