Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Acting First Justice of the Lowell Division of the District Court DepartmentAnnotate this Case
The Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Private Counsel Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (collectively, CPCS) has the sole authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211D for the assignment of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, and a judge may not override that authority to accommodate a preference for attorneys willing to assume a more collaborative role in drug court proceedings.
CPCS brought this petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking an order affirming CPCS’s independent authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211D to select and supervise attorneys for indigent defendants in the pilot program it launched in the drug court. This action arose after a district court justice removed CPCS attorneys from drug court cases to which they had been assigned and excluded CPCS attorneys from assignment to any new case in the drug court. The Supreme Judicial Court held that where a drug court defendant who is indigent is alleged to have violated the terms of probation, the judge must appoint CPCS as counsel, and counsel assigned by CPCS may be removed only for cause after a hearing.