The Thurgood Marshall Award honors a person or persons who champion the cause of zealous representation for the poor, and the right to effective assistance of counsel for all.
Derege Demissie began his law career at the firm of Grayer & Dilday, where he concentrated in immigration, civil rights and other civil litigation. Derege joined CPCS in 1998 as a staff attorney defending major felonies in the Superior Court.
In 2000, Derege returned to private practice as a partner at Doherty & Demissie, and later, at Demissie & Church where he remains. While in private practice, Derege has maintained his commitment to defending the criminally accused who live in poverty by continuing to accept assigned cases for indigent clients. He has tried over 50 jury trials in state and federal courts and argued before the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Attorney Demissie was appointed twice by the Supreme Judicial Court to serve as a member of the governing board of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. He has served as Vice President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and is currently President–elect of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL) and Co-Chair of Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, Inc. (SLJ), where he has promoted innovative practices to increase the diversity of the SLJ attorney panel. Through his work with MACDL, Derege has taken a leadership role in providing free initial consultations to individuals compelled to appear for Grand Jury investigations.
Attorney Demissie has been recognized as a Super Lawyer by his peers each year since 2014. He is the proud husband of Attorney Susan Church and father of Maya Demissie, age 13, and Leo Demissie, age 10.