Regional Notebook: June 22, 2022

  • Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Becky Michaels was honored with the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Prosecutor Award, given to state or federal prosecutors for distinguished efforts in public service activities and a commitment to justice. Contributed Photo/Jeffrey Thiebauth

  • Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Atallah was among 11 prosecutors to be honored with the Massachusetts District Attorney Association Spotlight Award. First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne presented him with the award. Contributed Photo

Published: 6/23/2022 4:10:38 PM
Modified: 6/23/2022 4:10:19 PM
Assistant district attorney honored by bar association

NORTHAMPTON — Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Becky Michaels has been honored with the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Prosecutor Award, given to state or federal prosecutors for distinguished efforts in public service activities and a commitment to justice.

The Massachusetts Bar Association noted Michaels’ work on initiatives that seek to ensure access to justice for all, citing the Conviction Integrity Committee, which reviews claims of wrongful convictions; a Hampshire County-wide restorative justice program; and the Drug Diversion and Treatment Program, which offers treatment instead of incarceration in cases where substance abuse is the primary cause of criminal behavior. Michaels supervises that diversion program.

Michaels has worked at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office for eight years in two stints, from May 2012 until October 2017, when she served as a district court prosecutor and attorney in charge at Greenfield District Court. According to a DA’s office press release, she left to work in the Springfield offices of Attorney General Maura Healey, returning in March 2019. She has since been working as an assistant district attorney in the district courts, while also leading several office-wide equity initiatives.

“Our office has long been focused on strong partnerships with the communities we serve as we work on initiatives that address some of the root causes of criminal activity. The equity initiatives are a continuation of our commitment to progressive prevention practices,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in the press release. “It’s gratifying that the MBA has recognized Becky Michaels’ efforts in this realm. Her leadership has helped move the office forward in our ongoing efforts to address implicit bias and structural forces that disproportionately impact people of color.”

Michaels earned her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College and her law degree at Western New England University School of Law in 2009, after which she served as law clerk for The Hon. Ariane Vuono in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor.

Assistant district attorney earns Spotlight Award

NORTHAMPTON — Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Atallah was among 11 prosecutors across the state to be honored with this year’s Massachusetts District Attorney Association Spotlight Award.

Atallah, a 36-year-old Amherst native, has worked at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office for eight years. He was recently promoted to work in the superior courts of Hampshire and Franklin counties on complex criminal cases, including serious financial crimes and sexually dangerous person litigation.

Atallah previously worked in each of the four district courts in Northampton, Greenfield, Belchertown and Orange. According to a DA’s office press release, he tried more cases than any other prosecutor over the past five years. He also served as the designated domestic violence prosecutor while assigned to Northampton District Court.

The Massachusetts District Attorney Association is an independent state agency that supports the state’s 11 elected district attorneys and the 785 prosecutors and 260 victim witness advocates who work in those offices. At the association’s annual conference, each DA’s office selects one prosecutor for the Spotlight Award given for outstanding service, spirit and professionalism.

Northwestern First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne presented Atallah with the award, saying, “Nick has become one of the leaders on our staff because he never backs down from whatever challenge his caseload has in store for him.”

DA’s office announces Child Abuse Unit staffing changes

NORTHAMPTON — A steady stream of new cases has prompted the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office to add a prosecutor’s position to its Child Abuse Unit amid restructuring sparked by a retirement last fall.

Assistant District Attorney Lori Odierna was tapped to lead the unit upon the retirement in October of former longtime chief, Linda Pisano, according to a DA’s office press release. Odierna has been with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office since 2016 when she was hired as an ADA in the Northampton District Court. She was appointed as the child abuse district court supervising attorney in January 2019.

Meanwhile, ADA Anne Yereniuk became the unit’s deputy chief, replacing ADA Frederic Bartmon, who was named attorney in charge of the Northampton District Court in March, the release states. ADA Andy Covington, who had been attorney in charge for the Northampton District Court, joined the Child Abuse Unit in March upon his return from a three-month National Guard deployment.

ADA Stephanie Jimenez joined the DA’s office at the end of November, after working for eight months for Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office in the gaming enforcement unit and handling human trafficking cases. She previously worked for 10 years on child victim cases for the 20th judicial circuit in Florida.

“The caseload in the CAU continues to be extremely heavy, with at least one new case of child abuse or neglect coming in every day,” Northwestern First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne said in the press release. “This fortification of the CAU staff was essential to meeting this demand.”

The Child Abuse Unit was created in 1987 as a special section within the DA’s office in recognition of the unique nature of crimes against children and the challenges posed by prosecuting cases with such vulnerable victims. Prosecutors work closely with family service advocates, child interview specialists, police investigators and child protective services workers in multi-disciplinary teams. Last year, the Child Abuse Unit opened 337 cases involving 424 children, filing charges against 167 defendants.

In addition to the four prosecutors, the Child Abuse Unit’s staff includes forensic interviewer and Unit Coordinator Kellie Beaulieu; paralegal Jamie Foster; family service advocates Linda Rogers, Sonia Serrazina, Kathy Bengtson and Karen Hernandez; forensic interviewer Suzanne Koch; and Unit Administrator Heather Hubbard.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
 

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy