BOSTON, Dec. 7, 2012—A member of the state’s second-highest court today joined Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s senior staff during a day-long training for district court prosecutors.
Associate Justice Joseph A. Grasso, Jr., of the Massachusetts Appeals Court spoke for an hour and a half on a variety of topics faced by prosecutors in what is often their first assignment – the fast-paced world of district and municipal court. Grasso focused his remarks primarily on matters of search and seizure, the subject of his 2011 book, Suppression Matters under Massachusetts Law.
“Search and seizure law is the nuts and bolts of a city prosecutor’s job,” Conley said. “I can think of no better expert in the field than Justice Grasso. I’m grateful for his time, his thoughtfulness, and his willingness to help us train the best lawyers in Massachusetts or the country.”
“You are the best and brightest,” Grasso told about 55 assistant district attorneys assigned to Suffolk County’s nine district and municipal courts. “You represent the future of the criminal justice system.”
Grasso was appointed as an associate justice of the Lowell District Court in 1984, as an associate justice of the Superior Court in 1993, and as an associate justice of the Appeals Court in 2001. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.
Today’s training, held at Northeastern University’s Curry Student Center, was part of Conley’s ongoing Continuing Legal Education Policy, which requires Suffolk prosecutors to complete at least 12 hours of continuing legal education each year through internal and external trainings.
Massachusetts lawyers are not required to undertake any further education once they pass the bar exam; Conley’s policy ensures that prosecutors in his office will be among the best trained in new and developing areas of law as well as the fundamentals.
“This is a policy that sets expectations,” Conley said, “but it also creates a collaborative atmosphere where prosecutors can discuss, debate, and learn about every aspect of the work we do. It gives our lawyers the best preparation possible when they walk into a courtroom on behalf of the people we serve. We have a reputation for excellence in the Massachusetts legal community. We’re not satisfied with enjoying it. We want to enhance and surpass it.”
The training was organized by Assistant District Attorney David Fredette, a homicide prosecutor who also serves as Conley’s chief of education and training, and Assistant District Attorney Donna Patalano, an appellate prosecutor who also serves as chief of professional integrity and ethics.
Other speakers included Assistant District Attorney Linda Champion on cases alleging operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license in light of a 2011 Supreme Judicial Court decision; Assistant District Attorney Christina Miller on best practices in working with victims represented by counsel; and Assistant District Attorney Ellen Lemire on strategies for cases involving child victims and witnesses.
Suffolk County is served by Chelsea District Court and the Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Central divisions of the Boston Municipal Court Department. An assignment in one of these courts is typically first for a new prosecutor. Conley himself is a graduate of a district court assignment, as are his first assistant, second assistant, chief trial counsel, chief of Homicide, and other high-ranking members of the office.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.