April 2021 MHLD News

Kudos to Miriam, Beau & everyone who contributed to the MHLD Newsletter April 2021

  • Interesting, informative and helpful.

  • Here are the headlines:

  • Upcoming Webinars – check them out on the Training Page
  • Why Race Matters Speaker Series: We encourage you to register for the April 26th session on the Harvard Study on Racism in the Criminal Justice System. There will be MHLD-specific breakout sessions on how to raise and litigate racial bias in mental health cases.
  • April is National “Minority” Health Month – Resources to keep you informed
  • CDC Declares Racism a Serious Public Health Threat
  • Resources for Culturally Responsive Behavioral Health
  • Research Shows Neurological and Psychiatric Outcomes from COVID article from Lancet
  • Recent SJC Arguments by the Appellate Unit
  • April 5 In the Matter of K.I. “Impounded Case” SJC-13081
  • April 9 In the Matter of P.R. “Impounded Case” SJC-13068
  • To watch the arguments, go to the Suffolk/SJC archive page: https://boston.suffolk.edu/sjc/archive.php
  • New Attorneys Joining the Guardianship Panel after completing certification training. Thanks to all who helped

Committee Meeting Agenda – April 15, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required

  • Approval of minutes of the March 16, 2021 meeting
  • Amicus Request(s)
    *Commonwealth McDermott, SJC-13091 – Reporting Only
    *Commonwealth Bailey-Sweeting, SJC-13086 – Reporting Only
    *Arnold Emma Massachusetts Parole Board, No. SJC-12954
  • CAFL Emergency Declaration – Franklin-Hampshire County
  • Monthly Financial Overview Report
  • Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  • Chief Counsel Report
  • Executive Session
    *Litigation Matters

You are invited to a Zoom webinar:
When: Apr 15, 2021 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: CPCS Committee Meeting – April 15, 2021

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Defenders in the News

Hello and welcome to the first edition of Defenders in the News. 

On the last Friday of every month we will publish a list of news items, awards or big decisions involving anyone under the CPCS banner. If we missed anything, or if you spot an article that needs to be included in the weeks ahead, feel free to send it to CPCS Communications Director Bob McGovern at: rmcgovern@publiccounsel.net

James Doyle, a private panel attorney, had two pieces published in The Crime Report, a nonprofit multimedia information and networking resource based at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. In one article, Doyle discusses the importance of conviction integrity units, and in the other he examines what effects – if any – punishing prosecutors can have on the system.

Cristina Rodrigues and Connor Barusch, CPCS staff attorneys, were referenced in a Boston Globe article about one of their clients and how community groups, including the Bail Fund, helped her pay high bail. 

Michael Waryasz, a private panel attorney, was quoted in a Boston Globe story about one of his clients, Antonio Cruzado Jr., in which the newspaper examined Massachusetts’ controversial three strikes law. The Globe also spoke to Cruzado’s supporters, who “say his punishment is unjustly harsh and shows how habitual offender laws can reinforce racial disparities that run through the criminal justice system.”

CPCS joined a group of organizations in a letter to the Boston Globe pushing back on a Globe article that was critical of compassionate release. CPCS joined Prisoners’ Legal Services, Real Cost of Prisons Project, Coalition for Effective Public Safety, Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, The F8 Foundation, Northeastern University School of Law Prisoners’ Assistance Project and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in signing the letter.

Lisa Steele, a private panel attorney, did an interview with The Connecticut Case Law Podcast about the recent decision in State v. Gomes and her role in the case. In Gomes, the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a new trial in a case where a jury instruction about inadequate investigation by police. Steele also had a piece on alibi defenses featured as the cover article for Champion, a National Association for Public Defense publication. (Click here for the article)

Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for CPCS, was quoted in a CNN story about Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ “Hinton Lab Initiative,” which is geared toward vacating the drug convictions for all whose evidence certifications were conducted in the William A. Hinton State Lab between May 2003 and August 2012. Benedetti also wrote a column in CommonWealth Magazine on Public Defender Day discussing the pandemic and the inequities in the criminal legal system.

Anne Bader-Martin, a private panel attorney and founder of One Can Help, won the second annual Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile & Child Welfare Award “in recognition of her tireless work on behalf of the juvenile and child welfare community.” Bader-Martin also had an article published in the ABA Journal about the inextricable connection between poverty and the juvenile court system. One Can Help, the nonprofit Bader-Martin leads, is featured in the article. The nonprofit “exists to provide the missing resources foster children, at-risk youth and underserved families urgently need to remedy court concerns, improve difficult lives and build better futures.”

Rebecca A. Jacobstein, Director of Strategic Litigation at CPCS, was referenced in a Mass Lawyers Weekly article about a single justice Supreme Judicial Court hearing in which she and other advocates argued that the county houses of correction are restricting attorney access and failing to provide comprehensive COVID-19 testing to asymptomatic prisoners. Jacobstein and attorneys for the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have argued “the Houses of Correction (HOCs) failure to conduct routine, comprehensive COVID-19 testing and to meaningfully reduce their populations, as well as five HOCs’ failure to provide meaningful, timely, and confidential modes of communication between incarcerated individuals and their lawyers, violate constitutional guarantees concerning cruel and unusual punishment, due process, and the right to counsel.” Jaconstein and staff attorney Dave Rangaviz are also referenced in this iPondr piece about COVID-19 in jails and prisons

Barbara Munro, a private panel attorney, recently had second degree murder conviction vacated by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Commonwealth v. Fahey. The court found that a new trial was warranted “based on the cumulative effect of the prosecutor’s improper cross-examination and inflammatory closing argument.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly recognized private panel attorneys Elliot Weinstein, Victoria Kelleher, Patricia DeJeunas, John Barter and John Warren on its list of 2020 Lawyers of the Year.

In memoriam: John Dingee was a CPCS Bar Advocate in Bristol and Plymouth Counties. He passed away recently at the age of 48. Two months prior to his diagnosis, he achieved his career goal and was appointed to the Superior Court Murder List.  Colleagues say he was a zealous and passionate attorney but he was always polite, respectful and a joy to work with whether you were working on his team or as an adversary.

Committee Meeting Agenda – March 16, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required

  • Approval of minutes of the February 17, 2021 meeting
  • Amicus Request(s)
    • Commonwealth D.W., a juvenile, SJC-12954
    • Commonwealth E.V., a juvenile, SJ-2021-0044
    • Commonwealth Karen K., a juvenile, FAR 28101
  • Social Services Update
  • Contract – Anti-Racism Training
  • Temporary Leave Policy Change
  • C&P Cases – Modifying Eligibility Criteria for Emergency Rate
  • Lease – Worcester Office
  • Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  • Monthly Financial Overview Report
  • Social Services Update
  • Chief Counsel Report

Registration is required to join the meeting


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Committee Meeting Agenda – February 17, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required.

  1. Approval of minutes of the January 21, 2021 meeting
  2. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  3. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  4. FY 2022 Budget Request – Initiative
  5. Chief Counsel Report
  6. Executive Session
    • Litigation Matter

Registration is required to join the meeting


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Committee Meeting Agenda – January 21, 2021 Meeting

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Registration is required.

  • Approval of minutes of the December 17, 2020 meeting
  • Audit and Oversight Overview
  • Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  • Monthly Financial Overview Report
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Chief Counsel Report

Registration is required to join the meeting:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

CPCS Attorneys Selected for BBA Leadership Program

Two Committee for Public Counsel Services public defenders have been selected to participate in the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program.

Jim Barakat

Jim Barakat, with the Children and Family Law Division’s Brockton office, and Schuyler Daum, with the Public Defender Division’s Quincy office, will be part of an impressive class of attorneys who will participate in the 10-month program. The Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) is geared toward promoting civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership role of lawyers in service to their community, their profession, and the Commonwealth.

“Being a public defender, and advocate for the indigent, I hope to gain insight and implement ideas that my private firm counterparts have in regard to executing public interest initiatives, but I also hope to meaningfully add to the discussion by bringing my own ideas to the table,” Barakat said. “I hope to raise awareness of what CPCS does, advocate for the population we assist, and lift the voices of our clients during the PILP meetings at the BBA over the next year.

This selective program attracts a diverse group of attorneys who have graduated law school within the last 10 years and have demonstrated a commitment to pro bono and public service.

Schuyler Daum

“I’m excited to join the Public Interest Leadership Program to develop a new toolkit with which to fight for justice in the criminal legal system,” Daum said.

This year’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) will be in a virtual format and has been designed to provide leadership and professional development training across key areas, including effective organizational leadership, diversity, equity and inclusion, pro bono engagement, and board service.

Mental Health Litigation Division Appellate Panel Certification Training

Committee for Public Counsel Services
Mental Health Litigation Division
Appeals Unit

January 2021

The Mental Health Litigation Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is now accepting applications for the Mental Health Litigation Division (“MHLD”) Appellate Panel Certification Training


Applicants must have the following minimum qualifications:

(i)        Demonstrated proficiency in legal research and writing; and

(ii)       At least one of the following:

      1. Two years of mental health trial experience;
      2. Primary authorship of two or more appellate briefs in other practice areas;
      3. A recent appellate clerkship, substantial editing experience for a law journal, or publication of a law journal article.

Admission into the training is based on qualifications and current availability of mentors, such that not all applicants who meet minimum qualifications will be admitted.

Required Training:

Admitted applicants must attend the virtual MHLD appellate training program that includes live (synchronous) Zoom sessions on the following dates, as well as completion of asynchronous assignments in between live sessions:

Training Orientation- Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 3:45 – 5:00

Day 1 – Monday, February 22, 2021 from 9:00 – 12:30

Day 2 – Thursday, February 25, 2021 from 9:00 – 12:30

Day 3 – Thursday, March 4, 2021 from 9:00 – 12:30

Day 4 – Tuesday, March 9, 2021 from 9:00 – 12:30

Note that the total time commitment will approximate that of previous live trainings, i.e. approx.   21 hours.

The registration fee for the training is $150, which includes all materials. Please do not submit payment until after receiving confirmation that you have been accepted into the training, at which point you will receive payment and registration instructions.

Application Submission Instructions:

Please click here to download the application.

To be considered, you must submit a completed application via e-mail to ktalley@publiccounsel.net by January 22, 2021. 

Your application must include:

(i)        Answers to all questions in the application

(ii)        A current resume;

(iii)        Two writing samples totaling no more than 100 pages.  If you are submitting a              brief, please include the entire brief, including the cover page and tables of                     contents and authorities.  If your samples include the name or work of other              attorneys, you must identify the portions you wrote and explain whether                     anyone else edited your work.

Further Information:

For further information regarding the appellate panel certification process, please contact Karen Talley at ktalley@publiccounsel.net.



As you may have already seen, the state – responding to a joint request from CPCS and the Massachusetts Bar Association – has added defense attorneys and other “court system workers” to Phase 2 of the vaccination priority list. The decision to add defense attorneys to the Phase 2 designation came over the weekend in response to a joint letter (See: Attached) we sent to Gov. Charlie Baker on Jan. 6.

We appreciate that the governor and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services quickly responded to our request. We also owe a debt of gratitude to MBA leadership, which continues to support the work that we do, and was ready and willing to stand with us as we made this request.

More information about the vaccine priority list can be found here. We are seeking more clarifying information from HHS and the governor’s office, including: the full list of defense attorneys and support staff involved in Phase 2 and where we fall on the priority list once the state enters the Phase 2 portion of the priority list. As of now, it is anticipated that Phase 2 distribution will occur during February and March. We will provide you with more information as it becomes available.

In seeking Phase 2 designation, our letter to the governor and HHS pointed out that defense attorneys and our supporting professionals both help maintain the critical infrastructure necessary to the ongoing operation of the judicial system to assure public safety. We also noted the enormous backlog of cases, and the fact that defense attorneys and supporting professionals must be ready to enter courthouses, jails and prisons as soon as possible to facilitate the operation of the judicial system.

It is clear that the state took our concerns seriously. Once again, I want to thank the MBA for its guidance and support in this ever-important campaign.

I look forward to providing more information as it comes in. Until then, stay safe, and thank you for all of the hard work you put in on behalf of our clients.

Anthony J. Benedetti
Chief Counsel
Committee for Public Counsel Services