The Innocence Program is accepting applications for an experienced attorney with a background in criminal trial and post-conviction litigation to serve as an Innocence Program Staff Counsel I. The Staff Counsel I will work closely with the program staff to review and litigate postconviction innocence claims across Massachusetts. The position offers a unique opportunity to apply forensic and investigation trial skills to complex, serious post-conviction felony cases, to support the work of private counsel panel members who are litigating these cases, and to play a leadership role in shaping how trial court judges and appellate courts evaluate post-conviction innocence claims and requests for post-conviction forensic analysis.

We fight for equal justice and human dignity by supporting our clients in achieving their legal and life goals. We zealously advocate for the rights of individuals and promote just public policy to protect the rights of all.

Our Values

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DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MISSION STATEMENT

CPCS is committed to protecting the fundamental constitutional and human rights of our assigned clients through zealous advocacy, community-oriented defense, and the fullness of excellent legal representation.  We are dedicated to building and maintaining strong professional relationships, while striving to accept, listen to and respect the diverse circumstances of each client, as we dedicate ourselves to meeting their individual needs.  It is our CPCS mission to achieve these goals, and in furtherance thereof, we embrace and endorse diversity, equity and inclusion as our core values as we maintain a steadfast commitment to: (1) Ensure that CPCS management and staff members represent a broad range of human differences and experience; (2) Provide a work climate that is respectful and supports success; and (3) Promote the dignity and well-being of all staff members. CPCS leadership is responsible for ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion. The ability to achieve these goals with any level of certainty is ultimately the responsibility of each member of the CPCS community.

AGENCY OVERVIEW

CPCS is the state agency in Massachusetts responsible for providing an attorney when the state or federal constitution or a state statute requires the appointment of an attorney for a person who cannot afford to retain one.  The agency provides representation in criminal, delinquency, youthful offender, family regulation, guardianship, mental health, sexually dangerous person, and sex offender registry cases, as well as in appeals and post-conviction and post-judgment proceedings related to those matters.

The clients we represent are diverse across every context imaginable and bring many unique cultural dimensions to the matters we address. This reality creates a critical need for CPCS staff to be culturally competent and able to work well with people of different races, ethnicities, genders and/or sexual orientation identities, abilities, and limited English proficiency, among other protected characteristics.

UNIT OVERVIEW

The Innocence Program is a unit within the Private Counsel Division of CPCS that is responsible for identifying, litigating, and overseeing counsel assignments in all post-conviction cases in which an indigent Massachusetts defendant asserts factual innocence of the underlying crime and/or seeks post-conviction forensic analysis to support a claim of factual innocence. The Innocence Program also collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders across the criminal legal system to develop protocols and trainings aimed at expanding access to post-conviction discovery and forensic analysis. The Innocence Program presently oversees two federal grant awards from the Department of Justice.

POSITION OVERVIEW

The Innocence Program is accepting applications for an experienced lawyer with a background in criminal trial and post-conviction litigation matters. The Staff Counsel I will work closing with program staff to review and litigate postconviction innocence claims across Massachusetts. The Staff Counsel I will advise and train trial and post-conviction panel attorneys who are assigned to handle innocence cases, particularly those involving complex forensic issues.

In 2020 and 2022, the Innocence Program received federal grant awards that allowed it to establish a multi-factored data analysis project aimed at improving case selection and providing data-based litigation support to cases that are accepted for investigation and litigation. The Staff Counsel I will oversee the continued implementation and maintenance of the data project, work with program staff to develop legal and investigation training programs based on the insights of the data project and assist the program director in applying for future federal grant awards to build on these insights.

In 2017 and 2020, the Innocence Program received federal grant awards that allowed it to establish a review of cases involving microscopic hair analysis. The Staff Counsel I will assist the program director in overseeing the final phase of that review, including by identifying cases from the review that would benefit from counseled motions for post-conviction forensic analysis and/or Rule 30 motions challenging the underlying conviction.

While the Innocence Program office is currently located in Roxbury, it is expected to relocate to 75 Federal Street in 2024. While hybrid/remote work is approved for this position, it is expected that the Staff Counsel I will report to the Roxbury/Federal Street office in person at least one day per week, to participate in the weekly staff meetings.

The Staff Counsel I reports to the Director of the Innocence Program.

RESPONSIBILITIES

The duties of the Innocence Program Staff Counsel I include, but are not limited to:

  • Collaborating with the Innocence Program staff and grant partners to create a prioritized list of cases that would most benefit from the assistance of an experienced trial litigator to support assigned post-conviction panel attorneys in case investigation and litigation;
  • Partnering with assigned panel attorneys on all aspects of investigation and litigation of those cases, including: (a) consultation with forensic experts; (b) development and implementation of fact investigation by staff or appointed investigators; (c) drafting of written motions, expert affidavits, and other attendant written pleadings to support the trial court litigation of motions for a new trial; (d) preparation and conduct of evidentiary hearings;
  • Overseeing the implementation and expansion of the grant funded data project, including by developing training programs based on the insights of that project;
  • Overseeing the final phase of the grant funded microscopic hair review, by assisting the program director to identify cases that would benefit from counseled motions for post-conviction forensic analysis and/or Rule 30 motions;
  • Collaborating with program staff to develop and give presentations at training programs on evaluating and litigating claims of factual innocence; and,
  • Other duties as assigned.
Requirements
MINIMUM ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS:
  • Eligible to practice law in this jurisdiction as a member of the Massachusetts bar in good standing, or as an attorney in another jurisdiction who is eligible to engage in limited Massachusetts practice under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:04;
  • Access to an automobile in order to travel to courts, clients, and investigation locations that are not easily accessible by public transportation; and,
  • Access to a personal computer with home internet access sufficient to work remotely.
QUALIFICATIONS/ SKILLS:
  • A successful candidate will have experience and/or training in some or all of the following areas:
  • Minimum of four years’ experience representing indigent clients in criminal trial and post-conviction matters;
  • Superior Court jury trials and/or complex evidentiary hearings;
  • Examining witnesses on direct and cross-examination;
  • Working with expert witnesses and forensic evidence issues (including consultation with and in-court testimony of experts);
  • Evaluating and litigating cases involving DNA evidence;
  • Identifying and litigating motions to suppress and/or motions in limine regarding common causes of wrongful convictions (e.g. eyewitness evidence, false confessions, jailhouse informants);
  • Appellate writing and/or substantial motion practice;
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have experience handling post-conviction motions for new trial and evidentiary hearings in criminal case litigation;
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have experience with data analysis and collaborative project-based work environments;
  • Candidates are expected to have excellent litigation, writing, oral presentation, organizational, and interpersonal skills; and,
  • Proficiency using Zoom and/or other online meeting and training platforms, as well as Monday.com.
An attorney interested in the position should submit a resume, writing sample of no more than fifteen pages which has not been substantially edited by anyone other than the applicant, and a letter of interest that describes how the applicant’s qualifications are pertinent to this position. EEO Statement The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran or military status, genetic information, gender identity, or sexual orientation as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other applicable federal and state statutes and organizational policies.  Applicants who have questions about equal employment opportunity or who need reasonable accommodations can contact the interim Chief Human Resources Officer.