Rep. Brian Mannal got $139,729 in defense cash from state

Mannal disputes the Herald's story. Says he has never, represented a sex offender.
First-term Barnstable State Rep. Brian Mannal. Photo from his website.

State Rep. Brian Mannal (D-Barnstable) has received $139,000 in compensation from public defender funds at the same time that he is supporting a bill which gives sex offenders taxpayer-funded lawyers for their defense.

The Boston Herald reports that Mannal has received more than $30,000 in just the past seven months.

According a spokesperson from the Committee for Public Counsel Services he has not represented indigent clients at sex offender classification hearings, but he has filed legislation which will reduce the registration requirements for sex offenders down from 20 years to 10 years and remove the requirement for GPS monitoring for sex offenders on parole and probation.

Mannal said, “When you look at the rate of recidivism, 10 years strikes me as more than enough time to come back. For those that are going to re-offend, they usually do it before then.”

The Herald reported that Mannal said he consulted with House counsel before his Jan. 2 swearing-in and is in the process of filing a disclosure form with the House clerk’s office. He said he is still deciding whether to continue his work as a taxpayer-funded bar advocate — citing his workload as a legislator.

Mannal disputes the Herald's story

Says he has never, represented a sex offender.Mannal disputes the Herald's story. Says he has never, represented a sex offender.

Rep. Brian Mannal disputes the Herald's summary and/or characterization of the issue, and feels that the public has been misled about the basis for the legislation and its budgetary implications.
"I strongly disagree with the Herald's assertion that the availability of public counsel to the poor is an “obscure” provision of the law. The bill is supported by ample case law, as well as a statutory mandate to provide public counsel to indigent individuals during such hearings," said Rep. Mannal, referring to M.G.L. c. 211D, Section 16.

"HB 1491 is not intended to give sexual offenders a second bite at the apple with a free attorney, and I'm astounded that some people have interpreted it as such," said Mannal. "To be clear, the bill is designed to ensure that the poor are aware of their rights and are afforded equal standing as the affluent. This proposal is not designed to allow the state’s most dangerous sexual predators to somehow be reclassified. The Sex Offender Registry Board is tasked with taking the seriousness of the crimes into account and I trust that they will continue to classify the most dangerous offenders appropriately," said Rep. Mannal.

"There has also been some misunderstanding about several other bills that I filed, including a claim that I proposed legislation to reduce the registration requirements for sex offenders down from 20 years to 10 years. That is simply not true. The legislation is intended to lower the review date from 20 years to 10 years. The decision to cease any registration requirement would still be up to the board, and if there is any confusion about that, I will happily file an amendment to make clear that the law speaks only to reducing the amount of time before one can petition the board for a review." said Mannal.

"As for the Boston Herald's most recent attempt to draw a connection between the money that I have earned as a bar advocate defending indigent individuals and the legislation that is related to the right to counsel for indigent sexual offenders, I consider it a new low in journalism. As a private attorney and as a bar advocate, I have never represented a sexual offender before the SORB. In fact, I am not certified by the Committee for Public Counsel to accept appointments for the SORB cases. To the best of my knowledge, I've never represented a sex offender in any legal proceeding. To that end, I have no interest or intention of doing so in the future. So, the idea that I stand to benefit from this legislation is as outrageous as the idea that I'm somehow in support of giving sex offenders a free attorney and a pass on their registration requirements. Simply put, it's absurd."

Rep. Mannal has heard from several critics of the bill, including some who have questioned his motivations and dedication to the rights of victims. In response, Rep. Mannal points to the fact that he is a co-sponsor of several bills that expand victims rights, including H.1295 (i.e., An act relative to the reporting of neglect or abuse by mandated reporters), H.1455 (i.e., An act relative to the statute of limitations for certain sexual abuse crimes), H.1494 (i.e., An act relative to the compensation of victims of violent crimes), and H.1544 (i.e., An act relative to the termination of parental rights in cases where a child is born of sexual assault or rape).

"It is hard not to take some of the criticism personally, especially from those who don't understand the intent of the law or those who suggest that I am pro-sex offender and anti-victims of sexual offenses. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. Like many people, I believe that victims should have more of a voice at SORB hearings, but I stand by the decision to file the bills because I believe that fairness dictates that if you cannot afford an attorney, one can be appointed to represent you criminal proceedings and certain administrative proceedings, including certain types of SORB hearings."

Read the Boston Herald story here

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