Criminal Post Conviction and Appeals Unit

The Criminal Appeals Unit of the Private Counsel Division certifies and assigns qualified private counsel to represent indigent criminal defendants in post-conviction proceedings.  Assignments include direct appeals and collateral attacks such as new trial motions, motions for relief from unlawful restraint, sentence appeals, motions to revise and revoke sentence, and other post-conviction matters.

Unit Personnel & Office Information

Certification to Take Post-Conviction Assignments.

To qualify for the post-conviction panel, counsel must be a member in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar with substantial experience in criminal law or appellate practice, must undertake a training process, and must agree to work with an appellate mentor for the first few assignments.  The training requirement  must be completed  after the applicant has been approved for post-conviction certification.  Acceptance onto the post-conviction panel is on a provisional basis. To become permanent member of the panel, the attorney must successfully complete the mentor program.

Application Process

The applicant should submit a letter to the Director of Criminal Appeals describing the applicant’s interest in handling criminal appeals and explaining why the applicant’s experience, training, and education qualifies the applicant for appeals and post-conviction assignments. A current resume should be included. Two legal writing samples should be submitted, preferably at least one of which addresses a criminal law issue. The applicant should include the names and addresses of two references who are familiar with the applicant’s abilities in legal research and writing, criminal law, and/or appellate practice.

The above package should be sent either by mail or by e-mail attachment to:

Elizabeth Dembitzer
Director of Criminal Appeals
44 Bromfield Street
Boston, MA 02108


Training Program

Applicants are required to participate in a one-half day training program, which covers the appellate process, record assembly, client relations, and the performance standards.  Starting  September 1, 2012, training requirements for new applicants include attending an eight hour brief writing workshop and participating in a moot court in advance of oral argument in one assigned case. The training program requirements must be fulfilled at the earliest opportunity after the applicant has been accepted onto the post-conviction panel.

The brief writing workshop and moot court program are available to all members of the panel, as are the monthly brown bag luncheons, which feature speakers discussing various aspects of criminal appellate practice.

 Brief Writing Workshop 
Peer Brief Review Program
Moot Court Program
Brown Bag Luncheons

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