First and Second-Degree Murder Cases – Certified Murder List Second Chair

Attorneys who wish to second seat Lead Counsel on first- and second-degree murder cases, must be individually approved by the Deputy Chief Counsel of the Public Defender Division, for public defender attorneys, the Director of the Youth Advocacy Division for juvenile murder cases, or Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, for private attorneys on adult murder cases.  This is a distinct category from that of Co-counsel or Associate in a murder trial. Each applicant for Certified Murder List Second Chair must meet the minimum requirements set forth below. In addition to the minimum standards established below, the respective Deputy Chief Counsel may consider all additional information deemed relevant to an appropriate decision on each application.  Private attorneys acting as Certified Murder List Second Chair will be paid at the superior court/Youthful Offender rate.

  1. Minimum Requirements:
    • Familiarity with practice and procedure of Massachusetts criminal courts;
    • Lead counsel in the preceding seven years in at least two superior court or youthful offender jury trials.
    • In the case of a juvenile murder, a lawyer with at least five years of experience within the last seven years as a delinquency or YO attorney, and a demonstrated expertise in the science of adolescent development, may be appointed as Second Chair.
  2. Duties and Limits of the Certified Murder List Second Chair:
    • Duties shall be determined by Lead Counsel with the following exceptions:
      1. The Certified Murder List Second Chair is authorized, at the discretion of lead counsel, to perform direct and cross-examination of witnesses during the trial, though lead counsel should perform a majority of these duties.
      2. The Certified Murder List Second Chair should not conduct opening statements or closing arguments, except in circumstances where it would be clearly beneficial to the client.
      3. Lead counsel should be present in court for all evidentiary hearings.
  3. A Certified Murder List Second Chair may use their participation in one murder trial toward Murder List Lead Counsel qualification. Participation as second chair in a murder trial will be considered the equivalent of one trial as lead counsel in a serious and complex case, as defined in the Assigned Counsel Manual. All other requirements will remain in effect.