Case: Lavallee v. Justices in Hampden Superior Court

04-00198 | Massachusetts state trial court

Filed Date: May 6, 2004

Closed Date: 2004

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 6, 2004, nineteen indigent criminal defendants with cases pending in Hampden County, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, pursuant to state law, claiming that they didn't have attorneys due to a shortage of lawyers in the Hampden County bar advocates program. The shortage was caused by the low rate of attorney compensation authorized by the state budget. The petitioners alleged that due to the underfunding, there were no longer a sufficient number…

On May 6, 2004, nineteen indigent criminal defendants with cases pending in Hampden County, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, pursuant to state law, claiming that they didn't have attorneys due to a shortage of lawyers in the Hampden County bar advocates program. The shortage was caused by the low rate of attorney compensation authorized by the state budget. The petitioners alleged that due to the underfunding, there were no longer a sufficient number of private attorneys willing to accept assignment of petitioners' cases. Petitioners asked the court to exercise its statutory or inherent powers of superintendence, as well as seeking a declaration that the trial judges could order that assigned counsel be compensated at a higher rate. Petitioners were represented by lawyers from the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and private firms.

On July 28, 2004 the court (Spina, J.) concluded that inadequate compensation of counsel amounted to a deprivation of the constitutional right to counsel. The court ruled that no defendant entitled to a court-appointed attorney should be required to wait longer than forty-five days for an attorney to file an appearance. If such appearance was not made within forty-five days, the court held, the case against the defendant should be dismissed without prejudice. An indigent defendant held in lieu of bail or under an order of preventive detention could not be held more than seven days without counsel before the case was to be dismissed without prejudice. However, the court held that it was inappropriate for the Supreme Judicial Court to order judges to authorize compensation rates above what the legislature had determined is appropriate. Lavallee v. Justices In Hampden Superior Court, 442 Mass. 228, 812 N.E.2d 895 (2004).

Next, the case was sent to the Supreme Judicial Court to determine the appropriate mechanism for putting into place the forty-five and seven day deadlines. Justice Spina apparently held a hearing on the matter on August 6, 2004 vacating the matter of one of the indigent defendants and remanding the matters of the others to determine whether to impose probationary conditions or to simply release the defendant. On August 17, 2004 Justice Spina made an interim order allowing judges in arraignment sessions to assign counsel from lists created with the Regional Administrative Justice for the Superior Court for the western region and to compensate them as per the rates approved by the legislature.

The case is apparently closed.

Summary Authors

Dayna Frenkel (2/18/2009)

People


Judge(s)

Cowin, William I. (Massachusetts)

Greaney, John M. (Massachusetts)

Ireland, Roderick L. (Massachusetts)

Marshall, Margaret H. (Massachusetts)

Spina, Francis X (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hoose, David P. (Massachusetts)

Keehn, Benjamin H (Massachusetts)

Leahy, William J. (Massachusetts)

Newman, William C. (Massachusetts)

Reinstein, John (Massachusetts)

Judge(s)

Cowin, William I. (Massachusetts)

Greaney, John M. (Massachusetts)

Ireland, Roderick L. (Massachusetts)

Marshall, Margaret H. (Massachusetts)

Spina, Francis X (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hoose, David P. (Massachusetts)

Keehn, Benjamin H (Massachusetts)

Leahy, William J. (Massachusetts)

Newman, William C. (Massachusetts)

Reinstein, John (Massachusetts)

Silverman, Andrew R. (Massachusetts)

Wynn, Patricia A. (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Kehoe, Ronald F. (Massachusetts)

Kerrigan, David R. (Massachusetts)

Other Attorney(s)

Allaire, Kristina H. (Massachusetts)

Barshak, Edward J. (Massachusetts)

Berliner, Wendy A. (Massachusetts)

Cinquegrana, Ralph J. (Massachusetts)

Dineen Jerrett, Melissa L. (Massachusetts)

Good, Andrew (Massachusetts)

Healy, Martin W. (Massachusetts)

Kennedy, Mary J. (Massachusetts)

Machado, Paul J. (Massachusetts)

McGinty, Charles P. (Massachusetts)

Rosenfeld, Arnold R. (Massachusetts)

Schwab, Terrence M. (Massachusetts)

Van Nostrand, Richard C. (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Lavallee et al. v. Justices of the Hampden Superior Court

Massachusetts state supreme court

Oct. 24, 2008 Docket

Opinion

Lavallee v. Justices in the Hampden Superior Court

Massachusetts state supreme court

812 N.E.2d 895

July 28, 2004 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel

Vidhya K. Reddy

This paper traces the evolution of litigative efforts to structurally reform state and local indigent defense systems, focusing on the potential of modern class action lawsuits to overcome political … May 7, 2007 None

Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense

Norman Lefstein

Chapter 1: The Failure to Implement the Right to Counsel Due to Excessive Caseloads <br />A. The Constitutional Right to Counsel: Brief Overview <br />B. Excessive Workloads: A Pervasive National P… Jan. 1, 2011 http://www.americanbar.org/...

Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.

National Right to Counsel Committee

[Edited, from the website:] <br /> <br />[Notwithstanding the nominal right of indigent defendants to publicly provided counsel,] Today, in criminal and juvenile proceedings in state courts, somet… April 14, 2009 http://www.constitutionproject.org/...

The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation

Cara Drinan

For years, scholars have documented the national crisis in indigent defense and its many tragic implications, and yet the crisis persists. Traditionally, the appellate and political processes were th… Jan. 1, 2009 http://papers.ssrn.com/...

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Indigent Defense

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 6, 2004

Closing Date: 2004

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Indigent defendants in criminal cases that were not afforded counsel due to a shortage of lawyers in Hampden County due to budget restraints. While not officially certified as a class action, the judgment applies to any other indigent criminal defendant.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Legal Services/Legal Aid

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Justices in the Hampden Superior Court (Suffolk), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Funding

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload