Court and Community News

Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019
​MA Access to Justice Commission names director; Nechtem reappointed Juvenile Court chief justice; Updates made to Criminal Justice Act plan; SJC order governing first-degree murder appeals

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MA Access to Justice Commission names director

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) announced this week that the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission has named attorney Carolyn Goodwin as its director, effective Aug. 5, 2019. 

First established by the SJC in 2005, the commission seeks to improve access to justice for people who are unable to afford an attorney for essential civil legal needs, such as cases involving housing, consumer debt and family law. Among other activities, the commission coordinates with civil legal aid organizations to support their activities and develop new initiatives to address unmet needs. The commission also works to increase the number of attorneys able to provide pro bono or limited assistance civil legal services and coordinates with the court system on initiatives that assist individuals to better understand and navigate civil legal proceedings.

In her role as director, Goodwin will be responsible for providing strategic guidance and overseeing key operational functions for the commission in consultation with its co-chairs, SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Susan M. Finegan, Esq., of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C. 

Goodwin joins the commission from Boston University School of Law, where she most recently served as director of public service and pro bono. She is also the incoming co-chair of the Boston Bar Association's Delivery of Legal Services Steering Committee, a previous member of the National Advisory Committee for Equal Justice Works, and formerly chaired the Public Service and Pro Bono Section of the American Association of Law Schools. 

Goodwin will be part of the staff of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the largest funding source for civil legal aid organizations in the commonwealth.  

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Nechtem reappointed Juvenile Court chief justice

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey recently announced the reappointment of Hon. Amy L. Nechtem as chief justice of the Juvenile Court for a five-year term effective July 29, 2019, in accordance with G.L. c.211B, §5. Nechtem has served on the Juvenile Court since 2001, and as chief justice of the department since her initial appointment on July 30, 2014.

In a related announcement, Nechtem has reappointed Thomas Capasso as the deputy court administrator for the Juvenile Court.

Nechtem served as associate justice of the Essex County Juvenile Court prior to being named chief justice and, prior to her appointment to the bench, served as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, where she handled child abuse cases. A resident of Swampscott, she received her law degree from Suffolk University Law School and her undergraduate degree from Simmons College.

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Updates made to Criminal Justice Act plan

On July 1, the First Circuit Judicial Council approved an amended version of the
District of Massachusetts’ Plan for Implementing the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) of 1964, as Amended 18 USC §3006A. The CJA plan became effective on Aug. 1, 2019, and provides the basic framework under which criminal defense services (including counsel, investigative, expert and other services necessary for adequate representation) may be provided to persons otherwise financially unable to obtain adequate representation.

The revised plan and the redline version detailing the substantive changes are available on the court’s website.

The Guidelines for Claims Submitted for Reimbursement Under the Criminal Justice Act
have also been revised, and a redline version is available on the website.

Both the plan and guidelines provide important information about the use of partners,
associates, paralegals or law students. The guidelines are a source document for panel attorneys that include general policies, a list of compensable and non-compensable tasks, information about contracting expert services, and necessary information for proper billing.

The court maintains a CJA Information webpage containing information related to the
implementation of the CJA, the plan, guidelines, forms and other resources.

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SJC order governing first-degree murder appeals

The Supreme Judicial Court's order governing appeals from convictions of murder in the first degree is now available. The effective date of the order is Sept. 4, 2019.