Member Spotlight

Issue October 2006

Worcester County D.A. Conte retires after 30 years
John J. Conte has been district attorney of Worcester County for 30 years, longer than any other district attorney in the state of Massachusetts. At the age of 76, he has decided not to seek an eighth term.

Before becoming district attorney, Conte served for 14 years as a member of the Massachusetts state Senate representing the Worcester's 2nd District. In the Senate, he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Special Committee on Judicial Reform, and was also a member of the Governor's Select Committee on Judicial Needs. This committee, chaired by former Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, was instrumental in bringing about comprehensive reform in the state court system.

As the district attorney, Conte has instituted numerous changes to create a professional prosecutorial office. These changes include establishment of the Victim/Witness Program, regular monthly grand jury sittings, and the assignment of prosecutors to each of the 11 district court session sites. He has also established specialized units to handle child abuse, disabled person's protection, elder abuse, juvenile justice, drug enforcement, civil rights, open meeting law, mental health matters, a domestic violence unit, cyber-crime and Internet unit and the District Attorney's Community and School Project - a school outreach program.

Conte was born and raised in Worcester and graduated from Holy Cross College and the New England School of Law. He has also taught American government at Assumption Preparatory School in Worcester and courses in the Worcester Public Schools.

He and his wife, the former Elizabeth L. (Betty Lou) Nugent, have four children: Nancy, Joseph, Thomas and Timothy. Conte is a member of the MBA, Worcester County Bar Association, a life member of the Massachusetts and Worcester Bar Foundations, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association and the National District Attorneys Association.

Boston attorney Pollack takes charge on International ChildFind Program
Sullivan & Worcester LLP is launching a new pro bono project, called the S&W International ChildFind Program. Under the program, S&W attorneys will provide legal assistance to parents of limited financial means whose children have been abducted across sovereign borders.

The project will be led by partner Barry Pollack, who has successfully represented parents and children in more than a dozen international child abduction matters and has appeared in four federal appeals. In a precedent-setting case, Walsh v. Walsh, Pollack took the matter over on appeal and obtained a reversal, allowing two children to remain in the United States after their mother relocated with them from Ireland to flee from a pattern of domestic violence at the hands of the father.

Pollack, a former federal prosecutor, is using his unique experience to train the firm's associates who want to get involved in the cause and obtain courtroom experience.

"This new project presents a tremendous opportunity for us," said Pollack. "Because of the relatively short timeframe between filing and an actual trial in Hague Convention cases, we can mentor our associates to help left-behind parents in need and, at the same time, help them hone their trial skills with the guidance of experienced trial lawyers."

Sullivan & Worcester partner and fellow MBA member Patrick Dinardo, who chairs the firm's pro bono committee, expressed excitement at the launch of International ChildFind, explaining: "Service to the community is a long-standing tradition at Sullivan & Worcester. It is particularly rewarding when we are able to witness the impact of our efforts. Sharing our legal expertise with parents in need and helping them reunite with their children is an experience we never forget."