San Francisco, CA (July 28, 2017) – Anthony J. Benedetti, Chief Counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts, was honored today with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award at NACDL's 16th Annual State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) conference in San Francisco, CA. The award recognizes an individual or group whose tremendous efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system.
Upon being chosen as the award recipient Anthony stated, “I am truly honored and humbled to be given this award by NACDL, and specifically by the SCJN, which I have been a part of since its infancy.”
Under Benedetti’s leadership, CPCS provides legal representation to 285,000 indigent clients annually in criminal delinquency, children/family law, and mental health cases through a staff of 750, including 425 staff lawyers and 2,800 assigned private lawyers. Since being selected as the head of the agency, he has overseen rapid growth in the size of the agency in response to a legislatively mandated adjustment in how the delivery of services to clients is provided.
"Anthony is one of the first people I met while doing legislative advocacy work in Massachusetts," said NACDL’s Senior Advisor for Special Projects, Angelyn Frazer-Giles. "He is knowledgeable, helpful, and always willing to fight the good fight for those unable to fight for themselves. Anthony has been a welcoming face each year at the State Criminal Justice Network conference and his support of me and the SCJN community overall is truly appreciated. He is well-deserving of this award, and I look forward to continuing to work with him on criminal justice issues in Massachusetts."
From 1998 to 2010, Benedetti was the CPCS General Counsel, representing the agency before the executive, legislative, and judicial branches on budget and legislative issues. Prior to this, he spent five years as a public defender trial lawyer in the CPCS Brockton office where he represented hundreds of clients in the District and Superior Courts. He began his career at CPCS as an Audit Specialist in their Audit & Oversight Unit while pursuing his law degree.
Benedetti was and continues to be a leader in the CPCS’s response and subsequent litigation effort to seek justice for victims of the largest drug lab scandal (Hinton Drug Lab) ever to happen in the United States of America. Other noteworthy high impact litigation included CPCS’s success in abolishing juvenile life without parole in Massachusetts and numerous successful challenges to the sex offender registry.
Examples of successful legislative efforts in which Benedetti and CPCS have played a major role include compensation for the wrongfully convicted, reform to the Criminal Records Statute, reclassification of certain low level misdemeanors to civil offenses, reduction of certain minimum mandatory sentences, reform of the school zone statute by decreasing the zone from 1,000 feet to 300 feet, and advocacy to keep the death penalty out of Massachusetts.
Benedetti is a member of the National Association for Public Defense, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the American Council of Chief Defenders. He is a long-time member of the Massachusetts Bar Association House of Delegates, the Executive Management Board and a member of the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was also a recipient of an award given to those who seek constitutional rights for the disenfranchised by the Suffolk Lawyers for Justice in October 2005.
Michael DiLauro, the first recipient of the Champion of Criminal Justice Award stated, "Anthony has served as a teacher and mentor providing advice and counsel on a variety of subjects to many in the indigent defense community nationwide, including me. As a seasoned policy advocate, I can think of no one more deserving of this award."
Mr. Benedetti is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.