Committee Meeting Agenda – June 18, 2020 Meeting

Due to social distancing, the Committee will be taking all matters by phone.

  1. Approval of minutes of the May 20, 2020 meeting
  1. Amicus Requests – Reporting Only (approved by Executive Committee)
    1. Commonwealth Daniel Nash, 2019-P-0703
    2. Gonzalez v. Immigration & Customs Enf’t, 416 F. Supp. 3d 995 (C.D. Cal. 2019)
  1. Contracts
    1. FY 2021 Bar Advocate Program Contracts
    2. FY 2021 Provision of Legal Services to Dukes and Nantucket Counties Contract
    3. FY 2021 Bar Advocate Program Supervising Attorney Contracts
    4. FY 2021-FY 2022 CAFL Resource Attorney Contracts
    5. FY 2021-FY 2022 MH Regional Coordinator Contracts
  1. Lease Agreement – Boston Office
  1. Committee Rules and Regulations
  1. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  1. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  1. FY 2021 Obligations over $25,000 for Preapproval
  1. Discussion of Criminal Justice System Inequities and Police Brutality
  1. Chief Counsel Report
    1. COVID-19
    2. Reopening Plan Update
  1. Executive Session – Personnel Matters

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CPCS Statement: No Lives Matter Until Black Lives Matter

In 2014, we all bore witness to the video footage of a white police officer gunning down Michael Brown, a black and unarmed, recent high school graduate.  Since that unforgettable date and time, the blood of black men and women has been mercilessly spilled, and their lives cut short by police brutality, in nearly every state in the country:

See their names, say their names:       

  • Sylville Smith, 23 – Wisconsin
  • Korryn Gaines, 23 – Maryland       
  • Joseph Mann, 51 – California
  • Philando Castille, 32 – Minnesota
  • Gregory Gunn, 56 – Alabama
  • Freddie Gray, 25 – Maryland
  • Alton Sterling, 37 – Louisiana
  • Paul O’ Neal, 18 – Illinois
  • Antwun Shumpert, 37 – Mississippi
  • Akiel Denkins, 24  – North Carolina
  • Aaron Bailey, 45 – Indiana 
  • Keith Childress, 23 – Nevada
  • Felix Kumi, 61 – New York
  • James Leatherwood, 61 – Florida
  • Donnie Sanders, 47 – Missouri
  • Danny Washington, 27 – Pennsylvania
  • Tyre King, 13 – Ohio
  • Tamir Rice, 12  – Ohio
  • Marcus Peters, 24 – Virginia
  • Walter Scott, 50 – South Carolina
  • Channara Pheap, 33 – Tennessee
  • Jesse Quinton, 35 – Idaho
  • Gregory Griffin, 46 – New Jersey
  • Deravis Rogers, 22 – Georgia
  • Isaiah Lewis, 17 – Oklahoma
  • Naeschylus Vinzant, 37 – Colorado
  • Jacai Colson, 28 – Maryland
  • Yvette Smith, 47 – Texas
  • Atatiana Jefferson, 28 – Texas             
  • Pamela Turner, 45 – Texas
  • Sandra Bland, 28 – Texas
  • Miriam Carey, 34 – DC                
  • Ahmaud Arbery, 25 – Georgia
  • Breonna Taylor, 26 – Kentucky
  • Michael Brown,  18 – Missouri
  • George Floyd, 46 – Minnesota              

Perversely, this list is not exhaustive but it does serve to illustrate and document the pervasive, ubiquitous and inescapable reality of American apartheid. This has been one of the most troubling and daunting periods in our history as a nation. The unfathomable pain and suffering that is continually being unleashed upon the Black community by law enforcement is relentless. We shall not stand silent and do nothing. Silence is compliance.

From brutal slayings to the disruption of even simple ordinary life choices, such as, birding in Central Park, sleeping in your bed, taking a swim in the swimming pool where you live, barbecuing in the park, or even not being in the mood to wave and smile at a white woman in a neighboring home to your Air BnB, the weaponization and inherent fear of black skin remains one of America’s favorite past times.

“When the color of your skin is seen as a weapon, you will never be seen as unarmed.”

We stand now, not just as lawyers, administrative staff, social workers and investigators who have dedicated our lives to ensure justice for the least amongst us, but we also stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues and the Black community that has now, for centuries, been ravaged by hate, oppression, fear and death. We must do all within our power to eradicate this pervasive and lingering ideology that black people be brought to heel under the yoke of white supremacy. We must speak out, stand up, and stay vigilant to guard against our own implicit bias, and privilege, in order to push towards a common goal to eradicate racism in this state and this nation.

I will not pretend to imagine what it is like to be a person of color and have to deal with this daily tragedy and heartache.  I share this message, which has been built with the voice of Black leadership within CPCS, to ensure that our voice is complete and inclusive and thank Arnie Stewart and Nan Whitfield specifically for their contributions.

Please stay safe, healthy and working toward the tomorrow we want and must achieve.

No Lives Matter Until Black Lives Matter

Anthony J. Benedetti
Chief Counsel
Committee for Public Counsel Services

Future Roxbury Defender Wins MBA Scholarship

Hakeem Muhammad

Hakeem Muhammad, a future Committee for Public Counsel Services public defender, has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship.

The $10,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating law student who is committed to providing legal assistance to underrepresented individuals and communities in Massachusetts upon graduation.

“The Massachusetts Bar Association is very pleased to present this scholarship to Hakeem, who has already demonstrated an impressive dedication to protecting the rights of others through his past public interest experiences,” said attorney Francis C. Morrissey, chair of the MBA’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Scholarship Committee. “We look forward to welcoming him as a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and we wish him well as he gets ready to begin his career as a public defender in Boston.”

Muhammad, a Northeastern University School of Law Public Interest Law Scholar, was an intern at CPCS’ Roxbury office last summer. He will begin his legal career as a Roxbury Defender.

“We are excited to have Hakeem join our team of dedicated, hardworking Roxbury Defenders,” said Allison Cartwright, Attorney-in-Charge at the Roxbury CPCS office. “This is especially so as Hakeem interned at our office last summer and is familiar with the communities we serve.”

While interning with CPCS, Muhammad helped argue that a defendant charged with attempted murder had been unlawfully arrested based on false statements attributed to him by police. He also helped file a successful motion to suppress evidence that was seized without probable cause from a homeless African American teenager’s car.

“Agents of the State are more likely to trample upon the constitutional rights of defendants from inner-city neighborhoods that have been impacted by poverty and institutional racism. Such defendants are more likely not to receive the same level of quality representation that the Harvey Weinsteins, O.J. Simpsons and Lori Loughlins of the world acquire. This is very unjust. I look forward to contributing to the zealous representation of the indigent as a future trial attorney in Roxbury,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad is also the recipient of the Walter B. Prince Fellowship – a one-year program that provides financial and training support to an outstanding attorney at the beginning of their career.

The fellowship was created this year to honor the legacy of firm co-founder Walter Prince, whose early career included work with the Roxbury Defenders. The recipient of the fellowship will spend a year working and training as a public defender while being compensated by Prince Lobel.

Prince was a Roxbury Defender from 1974 to 1976, and he was the chairman of the Committee from January 1992 through November 1993.

Committee Meeting Agenda – May 20, 2020 Meeting

Due to the continued Stay at Home Advisory, the Committee will be taking all matters by phone.

  1. Approval of minutes of the April 16, 2020 meeting
  2. Amicus Request(s):
    William Dinkens and Eugene Ivey Mass. Parole Board, SJC-12882
    Commonwealth J.C., A Juvenile, Appeals Court No. 2020-P-0070;SJC-DAR-27424
    Commonwealth J.T., A Juvenile, SJC-12915 and Commonwealth v. G.L., A Juvenile, SJC-12916
  3. Salary Increase for Bar Advocate Program Staff
  4. Juvenile Supervising Attorney Contracts for FY 2021
  5. Monthly Financial Overview Report
  6. Commitments $10,000 and Over Report
  7. COVID-19 Update
  8. Executive Session
smartphone with home screen showing various apps

Tools for Remote Communication

With the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19, more and more we are looking for ways to communicate remotely with clients, colleagues, family and friends.  Below is a list of free video conferencing options.  We are also sharing information for you and your clients about expanded internet service and no or low-cost smartphones for low-income persons.

Continue reading

CPCS CLE Requirement – Emergency Policy Change – Fiscal Year 2020 Only

Dear Private Attorneys,

We hope you and your families are well during this difficult time.  Due to exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 virus, CPCS is waiving the Continuing Legal Education hours requirement for all units for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020.)

Although we have waived the CLE requirements, we encourage you to attend webinars that are relevant to your practice area to support your professional development.  The CPCS training unit will post offerings for webinars soon. Please see the CPCS Training Department Website.

You may still be paid for eight (8) hours of training if you meet the attendance and payment requirements.

Additionally, Panel Directors may offer credit for webinars that are not sponsored by CPCS.  Please contact the Panel Director for your practice area to determine whether you may get credit and bill for attendance at a webinar not sponsored by CPCS.

We hope that we will be returning to offering in-person training in the later part of the Spring (all in person CPCS training has been cancelled through April 30, 2020), and look forward to seeing you then.

The CPCS Training Department and Panel Directors

 

CPCS Statement on Coronavirus Pandemic

PRESS RELEASE

The Committee for Public Counsel Services today announced that it is taking aggressive actions in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among its employees and the public, and — with the dangers of the ongoing pandemic in mind — public defenders across the commonwealth will be heading to court next week to ask for the release of its most-vulnerable clients.

In order to provide as much social distancing as possible, the state public defender office is instituting a remote work policy. Starting on Monday, all employees across the state who can work remotely will do so. Continue reading