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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) School of Law announced that Professor Tina Cafaro was unanimously confirmed to serve as associate justice of the District Court.

“I am deeply humbled and honored by my appointment,” said Cafaro. “I have enjoyed every minute of the past two decades working at WNE School of Law. My colleagues are talented and skilled educators, and our student body is made up of engaged, bright, and committed students who constantly make WNE and the legal profession proud. I am blessed to have been a part of each one of their lives. I am excited to take on a new role in the justice system, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

Cafaro began her legal career in 1995 as a clerk for the Hon. Justice Kent Smith of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. She then joined the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney in 1996. Since 2001, she has been a clinical professor of Law and director of Criminal Law Clinics at the Western New England University School of Law. In this role, she instructs students in both prosecution and defense clinics, and has served as a special assistant district attorney for the Hampden District Attorney’s Office. She has been an instructor for the Massachusetts Police Training Committee, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Massachusetts Trial Court Academies since 1999.

Cafaro has been a member of the Hampden County Bar Assoc. education committee since 2015 and is active in her community. She has been a basketball and lacrosse coach with the East Longmeadow Youth Sports Program for nearly two decades, and previously served on the East Longmeadow Basketball Assoc. board of directors. She received her bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in 1992 and her juris doctorate from Western New England University School of Law in 1995.

“Although we will miss her very much once she ascends to the bench, we collectively take pride in her accomplishment and look forward to the wisdom, integrity, and thoughtfulness that she will bring to the bench,” said Law School Dean Sudha Setty in an announcement to the WNE community.

The District Court hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental-health, and other types of cases. District Court criminal jurisdiction extends to all felonies punishable by a sentence up to five years and many other specific felonies with greater potential penalties, as well as all misdemeanors and all violations of city and town ordinances and bylaws. The District Court is located in 62 courts across the Commonwealth.

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SPRINGFIELD — Staff Attorney Jessica Marcellino of Western New England University School of Law’s Center for Social Justice will join a panel of local service providers on Thursday, March 31 in a virtual discussion presented by the Women’s Fund. “Wait … What?! International Transgender Day of Visibility” will reveal important and affordable services for trans and gender-diverse communities in Western Mass.

Marcellino is the founder of GAIP, the Gender Affirming Identification Project, which is the newest project of the Center for Social Justice.

“The center is honored to be able to contribute to the LGBTQ+ community in such an essential way,” Marcellino said. “Unfortunately, many in the LGBTQ+ community face significant barriers to obtaining something as fundamental as accurate government identification. The center recognized this need, and that was the impetus behind GAIP.”

The Gender Affirming Identification Project is a pro bono legal program that provides comprehensive guidance to people seeking gender-affirming legal services and assists Massachusetts adult residents seeking gender-affirming changes to their state and federal identification documents. In addition, GAIP is able to assist with non-legal recommendations for gender-affirming-related services, such as access to health insurance or finding a primary-care physician. Outreach and resources are focused on Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties.

Marcellino joined the center in March 2021 and graduated from WNE Law School in 2012 as a public-interest scholar. Her law-school and professional experience has centered on assisting those in need, including positions with CPCS public defenders in the Springfield Superior Court, as a law clerk for the Springfield Housing Authority, and as counsel at a private injury firm in Springfield for seven years prior to joining the center. She currently serves as co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission’s consumer-debt subcommittee. She oversees the Center for Social Justice’s client-facing initiatives and serves as the lead attorney of each of the center’s free legal-services programs.

“We are excited to help those in need, and we have pro bono legal volunteers and attorneys ready to assist,” Marcellino added. The GAIP is made possible by the support of the Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ annual summer stipend.

Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has achieved success in its mission to advance justice through research, education, advocacy, innovation, and public engagement. The center’s pro bono initiatives assist marginalized and underserved, BIPOC, low-income, women, LBGTQ+, and immigrant communities.

Cannabis Special Coverage

Joint Concerns

Julie Steiner

As a law professor, Julie Steiner saw the thorny issues raised by cannabis legalization in Massachusetts — and the way it conflicted with federal law — very early in the process and turned it into a passion of sorts, not only educating students at Western New England University School of Law, but bringing other educational resources to the region and becoming a go-to resource on the topic of cannabis law. Yet, it’s not just legal nuts and bolts she’s interested in, but the real people impacted by a drug-regulation history in the U.S. that’s problematic at best — and still evolving.

 

 

Julie Steiner has been interested in the connections — and, often, the contradictions — between the fields of law and cannabis for a long time.

And when momentum was building in Massachusetts to legalize adult-use cannabis, just a few years after medical marijuana was given the green light, she really started thinking about the implications.

“Lawyers raise their hand and swear to uphold the law of the United States,” said Steiner, professor of Law at Western New England University (WNE) School of Law. “But cannabis is federally illegal, even though it’s technically legal in Massachusetts. How are lawyers to navigate this whole murky system?”

Based on informal conversations with her colleagues, plenty of law professionals were fascinated by this topic — and unsure how the practice of law could deal with the emerging business of cannabis.

“Cannabis is federally illegal, even though it’s technically legal in Massachusetts. How are lawyers to navigate this whole murky system?”

“It was getting off the ground in Colorado and Washington recreationally, so we had those two states to look at,” Steiner told BusinessWest. “But there was a dearth of scholarship. It was such an interesting time, really. Back then, support for legalization wasn’t as strong as it is now. In law, there was concern about clients and lawyers being prosecuted under RICO statutes.

“I called it the Wild West,” she went on. “The state bar association in Colorado had taken the stance that you can advise on the law, but since it’s federally illegal, if you actually started advising clients through the process of licensure, you risked bar sanction. That ultimately went away because courts reversed the bar stance on that, but it was a risky time. It was really, really interesting.”

That’s one reason why she applauds her university and its administration for being forward-thinking in establishing curriculum around this rapidly evolving topic, specifically a course called Cannabis Law and Policy. She proposed the course in 2015 and, after a year of legwork, and study, started teaching it in 2016, just a couple months before voters made adult-use cannabis legal in Massachusetts — but long before businesses actually started to open.

“Our primary mission was, and still is, lawyer competency,” Steiner explained. “I try to touch upon every facet that I can of the industry, teaching aspiring lawyers but also the practicing bar about how to counsel clients.

“I call the most risky the ‘plant touchers’ — cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. They’re the most highly regulated and most vulnerable to prosecution if they do anything wrong,” she went on. “That requires a lot of competence, legal advice, knowledge about regulatory regimes, and ability to keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape.”

Julie Steiner welcomes Cannabis Control Commissioner Steven Hoffman

Julie Steiner welcomes Cannabis Control Commissioner Steven Hoffman as a guest lecturer in one of her Cannabis Law and Policy classes.

And changing it is, she emphasized. “I find I can’t rely on anything I said last month without updating it.”

Beyond the plant touchers, plenty of other types of businesses have been involved in the world of cannabis, from lightbulb suppliers for growers to drivers who transport money; from property landlords to IT and security firms. And the list goes on.

Sensing that this new industry would need legal guidance, Steiner not only created the course, but was involved in bringing Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) regulatory public hearings to the law school starting in 2018. The following year, the city of Springfield retained her to serve as a consultant to develop a process to solicit and select marijuana shops.

And she’s become a sought-after resource on cannabis law, having been been interviewed by regional and national media; published scholarly articles in many legal journals; advised educational institutions on the topic of drug policy; and lectured on the topic in WNE’s Mini Law School and Road Show programs.

It’s a field, she notes, that has already crept into numerous law niches, from banking and finance to taxation; from real estate to employment law; from intellectual-property law to prosecution and defense, just to name a few. “Cannabis law touches on all of it. It’s a serious and evolving subject field in the law.”

 

Legal, Yet Illegal

The Cannabis Law and Policy course, WNE’s website explains, “focuses on how society has historically, and is currently, regulating cannabis,” also touching on legal, professional, and business ethics; enforcement policy; and much more.

Prohibition, Steiner noted, began at the state level early in the 20th century and eventually crept into the federal code. Over the past decade or so, individual states have again led the change to decriminalization, then legalization, but federal law has not followed suit … yet.

As a result, if it wanted to, the U.S. government technically could enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act, which pre-empts all the conflicting state laws, she explained.

“I call the most risky the ‘plant touchers’ — cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. They’re the most highly regulated and most vulnerable to prosecution if they do anything wrong.”

“Now, they can’t force states to enforce federal laws. The real conflict happens when participants, pursuant to those state regimes, start touching the plant. Once you get there, you have a conflict with the Controlled Substances Act. You have cultivation, which is prohibited. That’s where the federal government could technically come in and enforce. But that’s not happening because the federal government is exercising enforcement restraint.”

Changing public opinion is a factor as well, she noted. “When I started teaching this, public support was hovering just above 50% in the Gallup poll. Support is now about 68%. There’s much stronger public opinion for legalization than there was back then.”

Along with the history of cannabis regulation and enforcement, Steiner discusses civil rights, mass incarceration (using Michelle Alexander’s popular tome The New Jim Crow), and social equity.

“We have a robust dialogue about this. It’s very eye-opening to students,” she said, noting that drug laws regarding cannabis possession in the U.S. have historically had a fourfold disproportionate impact on people of color and those of lower socioeconomic means.

“Then we start thinking about what it means to be a lawyer representing the cannabis business. We talk about what that business looks like,” she went on, noting that she previously used Colorado and Washington as templates, but now draws on Massachusetts, since the cannabis industry has taken such deep roots here.

She also talks about banking challenges and Section 280E of the federal tax code, which requires even illegal enterprises to pay taxes. These tend to be more onerous for cannabis businesses, which can deduct the cost of goods, but not payroll.

“They get hammered. So lawyers work to structure these plant-touching businesses to maximize the taxation system, often creating two separate companies.”

The Cannabis Control Commission

The Cannabis Control Commission has often used the WNE Law School as an outpost for holding public hearings and listening sessions, like this one, attended by (from left) then-commissioners Britte McBride, Shaleen Title, Chairman Steven Hoffman, and Kay Doyle.

Steiner will bring in guest speakers from different areas of the law, including CCC members, to provide real-world perspectives, and students are also required to write and present their own independent scholarly papers on cannabis-law topics.

Speaking of the CCC, the law school’s seminars with commissioners and other experts in various areas of the law proved to be a valuable resource for locals, including potential business owners, who wanted information on topics ranging from licensing to operational requirements to municipal controls, without having to go to Boston.

“We thought early on we had the ability to align with the Cannabis Control Commission to help educate the practicing bar across the state,” she noted. “Lawyers, consultants, and people who wanted to be stakeholders would show up, and we’d talk about regulations and what businesses looked like. When they amended the regulations, we educated people again. We were, pre-COVID, the physical presence in Western Mass. for the Cannabis Control Commission.”

 

Changing the Narrative

Cannabis law is a passion project for Steiner, who also teaches Environmental and Land Use Law, Torts, and Introduction to Law.

“I’ve been involved in the history of how it has gone from its infancy through decriminalization through medical legalization, watching the birth of the adult, recreational-use industry, and now we have a viable and developed phenomenon. We have to keep pace with this, and that’s a fun challenge, educating lawyers and would-be lawyers. It’s truly a mission of mine in life.”

She prides herself on teaching law students how to be not only competent, but ethical practitioners in the field, who can counsel clients who often have plenty of misimpressions about legalization and what that means, since state and federal laws are currently so far apart.

As for federal legalization, “I welcome it because it’s sensible policy,” Steiner said. “We simply shouldn’t have a robust, viable workforce and an industry that is a real economic player that is forced to confront all-cash situations, which is dangerous and poor policy for everyone involved.”

Her public talks have addressed colleges grappling with the issue of legal medical marijuana, employers wondering if they can drug test for something that’s now legal in Massachusetts, and other audiences, ranging from public-health professionals to drug task forces, and even legislators. “Early on, policy influencers needed to think through policy changes. We tried to be on the cutting edge, helping them think through that lens.”

Steiner is also passionate about social justice in the realm of drug policy. “Or, should I say, social injustice,” she quickly added. “We have become part of the sealing and expungement movement and have partnered to provide sealing and expungement clinics.”

But even that effort is problematic, she wrote in a scholarly article last summer.

“While expungement is a laudable and necessary remedy to mitigate individual cannabis criminal record-based harm,” she wrote, “expungement also yields an outcome paradox: to further justice by expunging criminal records, society is erasing evidence of historic enforcement injustice.”

Because of the need to balance relief for the convicted with the need to maintain an historical account of the cannabis enforcement era, she suggests expunging entities maintain a record — one that eliminates sensitive, personally identifying information, while maintaining other important information of historic and legal value.

And that expungement process needs to continue, she told BusinessWest.

“We’ve gotten involved in helping those with prior drug convictions clear their records. This helps mitigate the profound effect of the War on Drugs, which we now understand overly penalized people given the severity of what was going on. And that criminal conviction follows them for life, with all those collateral consequences,” she added, making it harder for convicted drug users to access a job or housing. “It’s hampering people in their ability to move forward in life. We’re part of that social-justice movement to mitigate the effects of the War on Drugs.”

Again, cannabis law — and how it impacts not only future lawyers, but users as well, past and present — is one of Steiner’s passions, and it’s a satisfying challenge to stay atop the latest developments.

“We have a body of law now. When I jumped in, there was hardly any case law,” she said. “Learning about it, compiling it, and providing it to students is something I continually do.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) School of Law Dean Sudha Setty has been elected to serve on the advisory committee of the American Bar Assoc. (ABA) Legal Education Police Practices Consortium.

The consortium aims to contribute to the national effort examining and addressing legal issues in policing and public safety, including conduct, oversight, and the evolving nature of police work. The consortium leverages the ABA’s expertise and that of participating ABA-accredited law schools to collaborate on projects to develop and implement better police practices throughout the U.S.

The advisory committee provides input and advice concerning the general direction of the consortium, suggests ideas for appropriate law-student participant assignments, and advises on other relevant matters.

Setty became dean of the School of Law in 2018 and has served on the faculty since 2006. She is the author of National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law and the editor of Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law, and has written dozens of articles on national-security law and policy. In 2018, she was elected to membership in the American Law Institute.

Her leadership of the School of Law has been characterized by a commitment to social justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion work; and supporting excellence in teaching, learning, and research. In May 2019, the School of Law founded the Center for Social Justice, which has quickly grown to be a regional hub of research, advocacy, education, and activism. In April 2021, the faculty of the School of Law adopted an anti-racism and cultural-competency graduation requirement, making it the first law school in the region to do so.

Setty is also a founder of the Workshop for Asian-American Women in the Legal Academy, an effort to support current and aspiring members of the legal academy and to diversify its ranks, which held its inaugural workshop in 2021.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Professor Jennifer Taub of the Western New England University School of Law has recently been elected to the American Law Institute (ALI), the leading independent organization in the U.S. producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.

The organization includes judges, lawyers, and law professors from the U.S. and abroad, selected on the basis of professional achievement and demonstrated interest in improving the law. Taub will join 24 new members from across the country to advance the ALI mission to clarify the law through restatements, principles, and model codes.

At Western New England University School of Law, Taub teaches civil procedure, white-collar crime, and other business and commercial law courses. She was the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School during the fall 2019 semester.

Taub joined the faculty of Western New England University School of Law in the fall of 2020. A legal scholar and advocate, she is devoted to making complex business-law topics engaging inside and outside of the classroom. Her scholarly research and writing centers on corporate governance, banking and financial market regulation, and white-collar crime. Similarly, her advocacy is focused on ‘follow the money’ matters, promoting transparency and opposing corruption.

Her book, Big Dirty Money: The Shocking Injustice and Unseen Cost of White Collar Crime, was published in 2020 by Viking Press. Penguin Books published the paperback edition of Big Dirty Money last month with a new subtitle: Making White Collar Criminals Pay, with a new preface and epilogue updates.

Taub was a co-founder and organizer of the April 15, 2017 Tax March, when more than 120,000 people gathered in cities nationwide to demand President Trump release his tax returns. Relatedly, she has appeared on cable news programs including MSNBC’s Morning Joe, MSNBC’s Way Too Early, and CNN Newsroom to discuss the special-counsel investigation into links between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign and the death of Bernie Madoff.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) School of Law will host a talk by Judge Nancy Gertner titled “Incomplete Sentences: Judging in the Era of Mass Incarceration” on Thursday, Oct. 21 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. as part of the fall 2021 Clason Speaker Series. This free event will take place in the Law School Common and is open to the public.

“Incomplete Sentences” is about the dilemma of judging and applying laws with which a judge disagrees that effect grossly disproportionate sentences and have a profound, racially disparate impact. It is a story told firsthand by a sentencing judge, through her eyes, and through the eyes of some of the men she sentenced, whom she has interviewed for this book.

Gertner was appointed to the federal bench for the District of Massachusetts in 1994 and served until her retirement in 2011. She is also the co-author of “The Law of Juries” and author of “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate,” her 2011 autobiography.

The Clason Speaker Series presents expert lectures to the School of Law. The series is named after Charles Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who held the position of dean of the WNE School of Law from 1954 to 1970. Today, the purpose of the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund is to host speakers who will enhance the academic environment of the School of Law and the university.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University School of Law Dean Sudha Setty has been named 2021 Human Relations Award winner by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a human-relations organization whose mission is to champion social justice for all; fight bias, bigotry, and racism in all forms; and work toward building strong and inclusive communities.

In a message to Setty notifying her of this honor, NCCJ board member Andrea O’Connor said, “we are so pleased to recognize the excellent work that you’ve been doing at the law school on these issues and proud to honor you with our Human Relations Award.”

Each year, the NCCJ presents the Human Relations Award to individuals or corporations that have actualized in their daily lives the values and mission of the organization. These individuals and companies have demonstrated their commitment to fostering social justice and cooperation among all races, religions, cultures, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations.

“I am humbled and gratified to receive the 2021 Human Relations Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice,” Setty said. “Social-justice lawyering has been a priority at the WNE University School of Law for many years and continues to grow rapidly as we help educate and train even more lawyers doing cutting-edge work. I view the School of Law’s social-justice work as part of the larger efforts that NCCJ has championed for decades. It is essential to meet the challenges of this moment and those that will arise in the future.”

Setty became dean of the School of Law in 2018 and has served on the faculty since 2006. She is the author of National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law and the editor of Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law, and has written dozens of articles on national-security law and policy. In July 2018, she was elected to membership in the American Law Institute.

Her leadership of the School of Law has been characterized by a commitment to social justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion work; and supporting excellence in teaching, learning, and research. In May 2019, the School of Law founded the Center for Social Justice, which has quickly grown to be a regional hub of research, advocacy, education, and activism. In April 2021, the faculty of the School of Law adopted an anti-racism and cultural-competency graduation requirement, making it the first law school in the region to do so.

Setty is also a founder of the Workshop for Asian-American Women in the Legal Academy, with its inaugural workshop being held in 2021, an effort to support current and aspiring members of the legal academy and to diversify its ranks.

She was recognized on the Lawyers of Color Power List in 2020; was recognized as part of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women in the Law in 2019; was awarded Western New England Law School’s Catherine J. Jones Professor of Year Award in 2009, 2016, and 2018; received the 2017 Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award from the Connecticut Bar Assoc.; and was recognized in 2015 as a Trailblazer by the South Asian Bar Assoc. of Connecticut.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Ariel Clemmer, director of the Western New England University School of Law Center for Social Justice, was named a 2021 Emerging Women Leader in Law by the Women’s Bar Assoc. (WBA). The award honors women attorneys who have demonstrated professional excellence or had a significant professional achievement in their first 12 years in the legal profession, and promote the status of women in the legal profession or contribute meaningfully to the equal participation of women in a just society.

“I am so honored to receive this WBA award and recognition,” Clemmer said. “Directing the WNE Center for Social Justice has been a dream come true. I’m tremendously grateful to engage in such rewarding work every day alongside my team, the community we serve, and our passionate students, faculty, volunteers, and partners.”

The university’s Center for Social Justice works toward advancing social justice through research, advocacy, education, innovation, and public engagement. It is designed to strengthen collaborative efforts between the School of Law and the region to work toward a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

“The center has grown tremendously under Ariel’s leadership. Its cutting-edge Consumer Debt Initiative engages in important economic and racial-justice work in Springfield, and its Sealing and Expungement initiatives are part of essential criminal-justice reform activism that is long overdue,” said Western New England University School of Law Dean Sudha Setty.

In addition to providing these crucial services to the community, the center has conducted Know Your Rights trainings, provided financial support for initiatives that seek to measure and mitigate the legal fallout from COVID-19, and hosted nationally recognized speakers like Evan Wolfson, the legal architect of the marriage-equality movement.

Clemmer is among six to receive this prestigious award. “This year’s group of Emerging Women Leaders is exceptional in their talent and their accomplishments thus far in their careers,” said Heather Gamache, president of the Women’s Bar Assoc. of Massachusetts.

The 2021 awardees will be celebrated and honored at the WBA’s annual gala on Monday, Oct. 25.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — More than 100 current and aspiring law professors participated in the inaugural Workshop for Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women in the Legal Academy on Aug. 5-6. The event included workshops focused on professional development, scholarship, wellness, and Asian-American history.

The AAPI workshop was co-hosted by Sudha Setty, dean and professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, along with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar; clinical professor of Law; and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park.

“I’m delighted that WNE University School of Law and Penn State Law in University Park have been able to partner on bringing this workshop to fruition,” Setty said. “Law schools have spent the last year focusing on anti-racism as a guiding principle in legal education, including what that means in terms of supporting historically excluded populations of students, staff, faculty, and administrators. This workshop is one important way in which we can engage in some of that work. The overwhelming, positive response to this workshop is evidence that it is much-needed and long overdue.”

In addition to providing inspiration, the workshop offered tangible support to individuals from populations that are historically underrepresented in the legal field.

“Watching this workshop turn from an idea to a space for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women to build community, share their scholarship, and navigate the challenges and complexity of identity in the legal academy has been a truly rewarding experience,” Wadhia said. “I am grateful to have collaborated with Dean Sudha Setty and our stellar planning committee in this historic workshop, and hope it inspires representation and inclusion of AAPI women in the legal academy for generations to come.”

Given the workshop’s success in its inaugural year, Wadhia said organizers hope it will be an annual event hosted by a rotating group of law schools across the country. Institutional support, she added, is key to making progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy.

“It is inspiring to see leaders in the legal field recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the vast range of successes and contributions of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in the legal profession,” said Dr. Maria Toyoda, WNEU’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “Opportunities of this kind bring people together to advance communal conversations and education, which results in healthy, inclusive, and compassionate cultures.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — John Pucci, a partner at Bulkley Richardson, and Jennifer Levi, professor of Law at Western New England University School of Law, were named members of a bipartisan advisory committee to review and provide recommendations on U.S. attorney candidates for the District of Massachusetts. The announcement was made on Dec. 18 by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey.

The advisory committee will solicit, interview, and comment on applications for the position of U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, the state’s top federal law-enforcement officer. The committee is comprised of members of the Massachusetts legal community, including prominent academics and litigators, and is chaired by former U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner.

Levi noted that “the strength of our justice system depends on the inclusion and participation of people from every community and walk of life. It’s an honor to serve on this committee and get the chance to work to build a strong, diverse pool of candidates for such an important position.”

Other members of the committee include Elissa Flynn-Poppey, former deputy legal counsel to Gov. Mitt Romney and executive director of the judicial nominating commission for the Office of the Governor of Massachusetts; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean of Boston University School of Law; Walter Prince, partner at Prince Lobel and former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Assoc; and Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

“The advisory committee plays an important role ensuring that a highly qualified, fair-minded, and justice-seeking candidate is appointed as U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts,” Warren and Markey said in a joint statement. “We look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendations.”

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