Media shining light on low criminal justice salaries

Thursday, May. 22, 2014
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A Massachusetts Bar Association report showing the woeful compensation received by assistant district attorneys, public defenders and bar advocates in Massachusetts continues to garner strong media attention two weeks after it was adopted by the MBA's House of Delegates.

The report, "Blue Ribbon Commission Report: Doing Right by Those Who Labor for Justice: Fair and Equitable Compensation for Attorneys Serving the Commonwealth in its Criminal Courts." was prepared by the MBA Blue Ribbon Commission on Criminal Justice Attorney Compensation. It is the first study conducted on this topic since the MBA's groundbreaking "Callahan Report" in 1994.

First appearing in print in the Boston Globe on May 9 ("Criminal justice lawyers are becoming 'working poor,' study says"), the issue has been covered in print and on television, and by two leading national online law blogs: The Wall Street Journal Law Blog and Above the Law. Much of the coverage has noted the Commission's findings that the lowest paid person in a Massachusetts courtroom is a new assistant district attorney, which ranks less than the salary of the courtroom custodian, and that Massachusetts ranks last in the nation in public-defender salary.

On Monday, May 19, Commission member Martin Kane appeared on "Broadside" on New England Cable News along with Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, where they discussed ADA/defender salaries and the Commission's report with host Jim Braude.

Most recently, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham examined low ADA/public defender salaries in her May 22 column, "A salary that's hard to defend." Abraham wrote: "When we shortchange them, we shortchange the entire justice system. And our vaunted progressive ideals are exposed as hollow."

Other media coverage has included:

Thank you to the members of the Blue Ribbon Commission, whose work over the past few months has brought much-needed attention to this critical issue: Richard P. Campbell, MBA Past President (Chair); Denise Squillante, MBA Past President; Randy Chapman, Chapman & Chapman PC; William D. Delahunt, former Congressman and Norfolk County DA; Hon. Suzanne V. DelVecchio (ret.) former Chief Justice Superior Court, mediator, Commonwealth Mediation; Hon. Charles Johnson, former Chief Justice, Boston Municipal Court; Martin Kane II, McGrath & Kane; Gerard T. Leone, partner, Nixon Peabody LLP and former Middlesex County DA; Richard Lord, CEO and President, Associated Industries of Massachusetts; and Martin W. Healy, MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, who served as commission counsel.