Boston Municipal Court nominee's background rooted in defense work

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 29, 2014....Defense attorney Lisa Grant does not think having spent her entire career as a criminal defense attorney will hinder her from being an impartial judge.

Grant, 47, who was nominated by Gov. Deval Patrick to become a judge in the Boston Municipal Court, Dorchester Division, said Wednesday she understands that could be a concern. But she said is able to see things from a victim's perspective as well, having had family members who were domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

When she started law school, Grant said, she expected to become a prosecutor. She is currently a managing director at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, a position she has held since 2012. She has worked at CPCS for more than 17 years.

Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel at CPCS, said Grant has "essentially done it all at CPCS." She started as a trial attorney at CPCS after graduating from Boston College Law School. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, becoming the first woman in her family to graduate from college, she said.

Benedetti said Grant has done an incredible job managing people, and added she has an excellent temperament to become a judge.

"It is the temperament to me that really matters, and Lisa Grant really shines, in and out of the courtroom," he said.

Councilor Robert Jubinville asked her opinion about mandatory minimum sentences. Grant said she is not in favor of them because they take away a judge's discretion. She said she does not like a "cookie-cutter approach" to sentencing.

"I believe people should be treated fairly, but you should consider their individual case," she said.

Asked about specialty drug courts, Grant said she has never had a client go to one, adding she has avoided the Dorchester drug court. Specialty courts have great potential, she said, but she believes they should be more regulated. Proponents of drug courts say they are very successful, but statistics show low success rates for addiction recovery, she said.

Suffolk County First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan has known Grant for more than 20 years. Haggan described a rape case he tried in which Grant represented the defendant and where the victim's credibility was called into question. He was impressed with Grant's ability to instill reasonable doubt without humiliating the victim.

"I remember just being so impressed, not only with her legal skill, but the sensitivity she showed the victim," Haggan said.

Before she was promoted to the Superior Court, Judge Rosalind Miller sat on the bench in Dorchester for 18 years. She described the Dorchester Court as an extremely challenging and rewarding place to work.

"In my view, it is the quintessential community court," she said.

Miller said Grant is a great choice to replace her because she is well-regarded by colleagues and "willing to listen to other people's points of view." She said Grant is steady, kind, compassionate, yet strong and tough when necessary. Miller said she encouraged Grant to apply for a judgeship.

"If you confirm her, she will be an immediate asset to the BMC," Miller said.

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