MATA bestows "Excellence in Advocacy" award to
Massachusetts Bar Association Vice President Douglas K. Sheff
was honored with the President's Award for Excellence in Advocacy
from the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys at its annual
dinner on May 19 in Newton. Sheff was recognized for his
representation of children and adults who have suffered traumatic
brain injuries. This is the first time the award was presented.
"Doug's representation of TBI victims sets the standard in
representing the underrepresented for the trial bar," said MATA
President Christopher Milne, who presented Sheff with the award. A
past president of MATA, Sheff has served on its Board of Governors
for more than 20 years.
Sheff has represented clients with TBI since 1984. A combination
of cutting-edge advocacy and proper utilization of medical
technologies has enabled him to deliver consistently favorable
results on his clients' behalf.
Currently serving his second term as MBA vice president, Sheff
is also a member of the Executive Management Board and Budget and
Finance Committee. In addition, he served as MBA secretary for
2007-08 and as chair of the MBA Civil Litigation Section for
2005-06. Sheff also serves as chair of the MBA Membership Committee
and has chaired the MBA Annual Dinner Committee.
"This high honor is a reminder of the tireless commitment of
attorneys on behalf of their clients. Doug's example of
professionalism and altruism has had an immeasurable impact on MBA
leadership and the larger Massachusetts legal community," MBA
President Valerie A. Yarashus said.
In addition to his professional affiliations in the
commonwealth, Sheff holds the title of governor to the American
Association of Justice, where he has spent more than 20 years
working nationally and locally on issues that affect the trial bar.
Elected by his national peers, Sheff chairs the AAJ's State
Delegates and served as chair of its Council of Presidents. Sheff
is a recipient of the AAJ's Next Generation Award and a five-time
recipient of its Wiedeman Wysocki Award.
Sheff has also been appointed a trustee of the National College
of Advocacy, which provides education for lawyers across the United
States. Also, he received the ORT Award for integrity in the law
and has been recognized by the publication, "Lifesavers," for
preventing injury through aggressive representation of victims of
MATA is an affiliated bar of the MBA.
Channen, Ziomek receive CSB award for "extraordinary
Haverhill attorney Russell Channen and Amherst attorney S. Peter
Ziomek Jr. were presented the Clients' Security Board's 8th William
J. LeDoux Award for demonstrating extraordinary efforts to help
their clients recover significant financial losses. Supreme
Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin presented the awards at the
Seven Justice Courtroom in the John Adams Courthouse on May 20.
Russell Channen has been with Phillips, Gerstein & Channen
since 1989 and was named a partner in 1995.
His client was the executor of his uncle's estate. The uncle
died in an automobile accident in 2006. The client retained a
now-deceased lawyer to pursue the estate's interests in bringing a
wrongful death claim. The lawyer settled the claim and received
more than $100,000, and misappropriated the entire amount, instead
of turning it over to the estate.
Channen first located and then pursued real estate assets of the
deceased lawyer in two states. When title searches revealed valid
encumbrances far in excess of the values of the respective
properties, Channen filed claims with the lawyer's estate, only to
learn that the estate had no assets beyond the two encumbered
His last attempt was to file a claim on behalf of his client
against the deceased lawyer's personal catastrophe liability
policy. That recovery was barred by the policy's specific exclusion
for losses related to providing or failing to provide professional
services. The CSB awarded his client $90,000.
Channen is a graduate of UMass-Amherst and New England
S. Peter Ziomek Jr., a partner in Ziomek & Ziomek,
represented the young survivors of a family tragedy.
A now-disbarred attorney was appointed guardian of their
property, which consisted of more than $80,000 in cash and seven
multi-unit rental properties. During a period of four years, the
disbarred lawyer kept poor or no records of the guardianship
estate, making it impossible to determine the exact amount of the
misappropriations from it.
Nevertheless, on behalf of his clients, Ziomek sued the issuer
of the guardian's surety bond and recovered the coverage limit of
$90,000. He then reconstructed other records to show that the
disbarred lawyer misappropriated not less than an additional
$42,000 that the CSB awarded to his clients.
Ziomek is a graduate of UMass-Amherst and Western New England
College School of Law.
Established in 1997 in memory of the late William J. LeDoux, a
member of the CSB from 1987 to 1997, the award honors attorneys
who, serving pro bono, perform outstanding legal work in
representing a claimant before the board. LeDoux was also chair of
the board for seven years.
MLAC names Tomassian board member; Rush O'Mara
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appointed Martin V.
Tomassian of Edgartown to a five-year term on the board of
directors of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp. and
reappointed Martha Rush O'Mara of Melrose to a second five-year
MLAC is the largest funding source for civil legal aid in the
"Martin is a proven leader within the Massachusetts legal
community, and he will be a tremendous asset to the MLAC board,"
said Lonnie Powers, MLAC's executive director. "He also is the
first MLAC board member from the Cape and Islands, and we are
looking forward to having that perspective represented."
Tomassian, who was nominated by the presidents of the
Massachusetts county bar associations, is a principal of Tomassian
& Tomassian of Edgartown and Watertown. He is currently
president of the Dukes County Bar Association and a member of the
Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegates.
Rush O'Mara, chair of the board, is a solo practitioner who
concentrates on children's law. She was nominated by the MBA.
MLAC is governed by an 11-member board of directors, 10 of whom
are appointed by the SJC. The eleventh member is the chief justice
for administration and management of the Trial Court or his
MLAC was established by the Legislature in 1983 to ensure that
low-income people with critical, non-criminal legal problems would
have access to legal information, advice and representation.
For more information, visit www.mlac.org.
Committee for Public Counsel Services selects Anthony
Benedetti as next chief counsel
The Committee for Public Counsel Services recently selected
Anthony Benedetti to be its next chief counsel, beginning Aug.
Benedetti currently serves as CPCS general counsel, a position
he has held since 1998. Prior to that, Benedetti spent five years
as a public defender trial lawyer in the CPCS Brockton office,
where he represented hundreds of clients and tried 40 cases in the
district and superior courts.
Benedetti grew up in West Roxbury and graduated from Boston
College (1987) and Suffolk University Law School (cum
laude, 1993). While in law school, Benedetti worked as an
audit specialist in the CPCS Audit and Oversight Unit. Between
college and law school, he worked as a fiscal and policy analyst
for the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Benedetti is an active, long-time member of the Massachusetts
and Boston bar associations, and currently serves on the MBA's
House of Delegates and Executive Management Board. He is also a
member of the BBA Criminal Law Section Steering Committee.
On the national level, Benedetti is the Massachusetts
representative on the National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers (NACDL) State Legislative Network, and he has twice been
elected to the National Legal Aid & Defender Association
(NLADA) Board of Directors (through 2011). Benedetti is also a
member of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
and the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty.
Since 2002, Benedetti has served as an adjunct professor at
Suffolk University in the Criminal Justice Masters