Criminal Appellate Brown Bag Luncheons

The CPCS criminal appellate brown bag luncheons are monthly gatherings of the post-conviction panel held in Boston and Springfield in which various speakers discuss topics concerning criminal appellate practice.   Notices as to exact time and location are sent out to  the panel approximately 2 to 4 weeks before the gatherings.  The luncheons are worth one (1) CLE credit.

The luncheons are open to the members of the panel, who must register in order to attend.  Others are admitted by special arrangement. For more information, contact attorney Murray Kohn at

Anyone interested in speaking at one of the luncheons or suggesting a speaker should also contact Mr. Kohn.

Upcoming brown bag luncheons

October 30, 2015, 12:30 p.m..  New Chief Justice Scott L. Kafker of the Appeals Court Chief Justice Kafker will be discussing his views  about the Appeals Court.

November 12, 2015. Attorney David Hoose, Attorney Hoose is widely recognized as an expert on the death penalty. He will be discussing the case of U.S. vs. Dzokar Tsarenaev  and the legal, social, political, and moral ramifications of the death penalty that was recently imposed in that case.


Previous brown bag luncheons

The Fall, 2014, series began in September with Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Fernande Duffly, who spoke about the procedures by which the SJC processes case.

Next, throughout the Fall, a series of appellate practitioners spoke about significant post-conviction successes they had achieved for their clients. The speakers were:

  • Attorneys Beth Eisenberg and Laura Banwarth, who represented the defendant in Commonwealth v. Casey Cole, in which the SJC declared lifetime community parole unconstitutional (October 2, 2014).
  • Attorney Janet Pumphrey, who represented the defendant in Commonwealth v. Robert Wade, in which the SJC reversed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s access to potentially exculpatory DNA evidence (October 16, 2014) .
  • Attorney Kevin Nixon, who represented the defendant in Commonwealth v. Sheila Berry, in which the SJC exercised its authority under G.L. c.278, s.33E to reduce the defendant’s conviction from first degree to second degree murder (October 16, 2014).
  • Attorney Dana Curhan, who represented the defendant in Commonwealth v. Michael Sullivan, in which the SJC upheld the allowance of the defendant’s motion for a new trial trial granted on the basis of newly discovered exculpatory evidence (November 18, 2014).
  •  Attorneys Lisa Kavanaugh and Andrea Petersen, who represented the defendant in the case of Commonwealth v. Victor Rosario, a thirty one year old murder and arson case in which they were successful in convincing the trial court to allow a motion for a new trial based on new scientific developments in fire scene investigation, false confession evidence, and a newly discovered medical evidence demonstrating the involuntariness of the defendant’s statements (December 16, 2014).

In 2015, the following speakers have appeared so far:

  • Francis Keneally, Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court, discussed the functioning of the clerk’s office, including how the clerk manages the court’s docket, and how motions are processed (January 15, 2015.\
  • Attorney Barbara Munro, who spoke in Springfield about two cases in which she was successful in getting new trial motions allowed in two cases, Commonwealth v. Gonzalez, based newly discovered evidence that the government used false police testimony, and Commonwealth v. Pina, involving a claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and to use exculpatory evidence already in his possession (February 2, 2015).
  • Associate Justice Peter Agnes of the Massachusetts Appeals Court discussed the practice of implied findings made by the appellate courts vis a vis the record and access to information on the internet (March 23, 2015).
  • Attorney David Apfel discussed the case of Commonwealth  v. Michael Cowels, in which he was successful in convincing the SJC to overturn the twenty year old first degree murder conviction of his client based on newly discovered DNA evidence (April 9, 2015).
  • Associate Justice James R. Milkey of the Massachusetts Appeals Cour offered his thoughts on criminal appellate practice from the perspective of a former civil practitioner (May 29, 2015).
  • Attorney David Hoose, a noted civil rights and criminal defense attorney and death penalty expert,  spoke in Springfield about  the Dzokar Tsarenaev case and the legal, social, political, and moral ramifications of the death sentence that was imposed on Mr. Tsarenev (June 11, 2015).
  • CPCS Attorney Radha Natarajan and  Supreme Judicial Court Law Clerk Erik Doughty discussed recent developments in the law and policy concerning eyewitness identification testimony in light of the recent case of Commonwealth v. Gomes, in which the SJC proposed new jury instructions for cases where eyewitness identification is at issue.  Attorney Natarajan was a member of the SJC Study Group on eyewitness identification evidence and is a member of the SJC standing committee on eyewitness identification.  Mr. Doughty has also been involved in the work of both these committees (June 16, 2015).

Image credit: The Luncheon – by Claude Monet