February 15, 2008 Press Release
District Attorney Michael D. O'Keefe is pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Bar Association has selected Assistant District Attorney J. Thomas Kirkman as the Access to Justice Prosecutor of the Year. The Prosecutor of the Year Award is given annually by the Association to a state or federal prosecutor who has distinguished himself or herself in public service and whose commitment to justice and serving the communities where he or she lives or works is particularly praiseworthy.
Mr. Kirkman graduated from the Rutgers University School of Law - Camden in 1978 and entered Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA). He was assigned to the Chicago, Illinois, region where he worked for three years as an attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago representing people who could afford lawyers in a variety of civil lawsuits. He continued that work after moving to Cape Cod in 1981 for Legal Services for Cape Cod and the Islands. In 1986, Mr. Kirkman entered the private practice of law representing small businesses and criminal defendants. In January, 1993, District Attorney Philip A. Rollins named him Director of the Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit in the Cape and Islands District Attorney's office. In that capacity he oversees all domestic violence investigations and prosecutions in the office in trial and appellate courts.
He was selected to receive the Access to Justice Award, however, because of his work in the wider community. Mr. Kirkman has served on the Domestic Violence Task Team of the Cape Cod Council of Churches and as a co-chair of the Faith Communities Working Group of the Massachusetts Commission on Domestic Violence. Mr. Kirkman is one of the founders of the Cape and Islands Regional Domestic Violence Council and serves on its steering committee. Mr. Kirkman has also served on the Education and Prevention sub-committee of the Massachusetts Commission on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. He was elected in 1999 to the Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, School Committee and is in his third term. He served for three years as Chairman of that body. He was one of the founders of the Falmouth Education Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that awards grants for innovative programs and initiatives in the Falmouth school district. He is also an elected Town Meeting member in Falmouth. For the past twenty two years, Mr. Kirkman has served as an Associate Editor of the Massachusetts Law Review and has written extensively on a variety of civil and criminal legal topics. Mr. Kirkman has served on the training faculties of the National College of District Attorneys at the University of South Carolina Law Center as well as the American Prosecutor's Research Institute in Arlington, Virginia. He also is on the faculty for the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C. In those roles he has extensively trained police officers, prosecutors and community advocates in developing responses to domestic violence. In being selected for the award, Mr. Kirkman feels honored and that this award is part of his thirty year effort to improve the access to our justice systems by marginalized and sometimes forgotten members of our society.
The award will be presented at a Massachusetts Bar Association luncheon the first week in March.