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Jay Blitzman

Lecturer on Law

Fall Term 2023 and Winter Term 2024

Jay Blitzman
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The Hon. Jay D. Blitzman, First Justice-Massachusetts Juvenile Court, Middlesex Division, Ret. Interim Executive Director of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Ret.

Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Blitzman was a founder and the first director of the Roxbury Youth Advocacy Project, a community based interdisciplinary public defender unit that created the basis for the development of a statewide department. Jay also co-founded Citizen’s for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) and serves on their advisory committee. From March 2021 to April of 2033, he was the Executive Director of Massachusetts Advocates for Children. Jay currently consults on juvenile, criminal and child welfare matters and specializes in issues related to adolescent development and the cradle to prison pipeline. He currently holds teaching positions at Harvard Law (Trial Advocacy), Northeastern University School of Law (Juvenile Law), Boston College Law School (Cradle to Prison Pipeline),is a faculty member of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior (CLBB) and is an Affiliate of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.

Jay is a founder of Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile and Child Welfare Section, serves as its co-chair and was the first recipient of the MBA Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Award and received the 2019 ABA Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award .Judge Blitzman was a co-founder of Our RJ, a school and pre-arraignment restorative justice initiative. Jay also serves on the advisory committee of UTEC in Lowell, MA., is an Access To Justice Fellow for More Than Words (MTW), Boston which serves late teens and emerging adults, Jay was a member of the BBA Steering Committee on the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline. He has been a member of the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk, was appointed as the ABA Advisor to the Criminalization of Student Discipline Committee of the Uniform Law Committee (ULL). Jay is the liaison of the ABA Civil Rights and Social Justice Section to the Commission on Youth at Risk and serves on the ABA Juvenile Justice Committee. Jay is also a board member of Discovering Justice and serves on the advisory board of Northeastern Law’s Salus Populi program examining the social determinants of public health and is a member of Northeastern Law’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline project in conjunction with the Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration. Jay also chairs the Juvenile Committee of Northeastern Law School’s Criminal Justice Reform Group.

Judge Blitzman publishes and presents regularly on a wide array of issues, including promoting racial and ethnic equity in all contexts. He is a member of the Gault Center (formerly the National Juvenile Defender Center) Judicial Advisory Council and has co-authored bench cards on honoring Gault, adolescent development, racial and ethnic bias, sexual orientation and gender, fines & fees & bail, and collateral consequences. In 2018 Judge Blitzman was the first recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare award and in 2019 he was honored ABA Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award. The Massachusetts public defender agency annual presents the Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award. Jay is also a Boston University Center on Antiracism Research Affiliate.

Jay consults on juvenile, criminal and child welfare issues, serves as a mentor to new attorneys, and has worked on indigent defense projects for the Sixth Amendment Center (6AC).

Significant presentations include:

  • Reimagining Child Protection: Organizer and Moderator- Boston College Law and Kennedy School Conference- October 2023
  • Renewal and Revolution Conference: Recommitting the Legal Profession to Serving Children and Youth, Their Families, and Communities Practice– ABA Invitation Only Conference- Hofstra Law School, N.Y. October 2023
  • Massachusetts Senate Briefing on Juvenile and Emerging Adult Justice– September 2034
  • Reversing the Flow in the Pipeline: Re-Envisioning Our Response to Youth In Mental Health Crises, Presenter and Moderator, Annual M.B.A. Juvenile & Child Welfare Conference (UTEC Lowell, May 2023)
  • Cultivating a School-to-Possibility Pipeline: The Second Summit on Disrupting & Eliminating the School to Prison Pipeline in Massachusetts: Panelist and Moderator (Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Conference in Conjunction with Department of Youth Services (March 2023)
  • Disabling Inequity: The Need for Remedies, Keynote, Annual Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education (ASE) Conference (Holy Cross, Worcester, March 2023)
  • Disrupting The School-to-Prison Pipeline, Panelist, Massachusetts School of Law (Dartmouth, March 2023)
  • Restorative Justice In Massachusetts, Presenter and Moderator, Boston College Law School’s Rappaport Center (March 2022)
  • Neuroscience and Criminal Law: The Post Jones Landscape For Late Adolescents and Emerging Adults, Petrie-Flom Center (Harvard) and Center for Law Brain and Behavior (M.G.H.-Harvard Medical), Moderator and Panelist, February 2022
  • Salus Populi-The Health of the People, The Social Determinants of Public Health, Judicial Educational Forum, Northeastern University School of Law-Center for Health Policy and Law, Facilitator (October 2021, June 2022)
  • Why Race Matters, Presenter, National Juvenile Defender Center (June 2021)
  • Positive Youth Development, Moderator and Presenter, Massachusetts Bar Association (January 2021)
  • Deconstructing The Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Unintended Consequences? (November 2012, Franklin Pierce Law School, University of New Hampshire
  • Adolescent Brain Development and Juvenile Justice, (Harvard, Feb. 2020, with Robert Kinscherff)
  • Bail, Costs, and Fees, (Feb. 2020, Annual Delaware Family Court Conference)
  • Empowering Youth, Keynote, Annual Juvenile and Child Welfare Conference, Boston 2019- Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
  • Abolish Juvenile Solitary Confinement, ABA Webinar (Moderator 2019); Massachusetts Transgender People In The Massachusetts Trial Court, Mandatory on Line Training for All Court Employees- Planner and Presenter (2018)
  • Gault at 50, (Keynote, Massachusetts Bar Association, 2017)
  • Deconstructing The Cradle to Prison Pipeline, U.S. Attorney’s Education Working Group Addressing The School-to-Prison Pipeline (Boston 2017) (other presenter, Dan Losen, Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, UCLA, addressing special education and student disabilities in context of school discipline)
  • What’s Age Got To Do With It?, Adolescent Development (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ, N.Y.C. 2017)
  • Community Based Alternatives for Schools and Police, (Keynote, Worcester, MA 2017)
  • The Theory and Scope of Juvenile Justice– Debating the future of the juvenile court before the National Academy of Sciences National Resource Council (Washington D.C. 1999)
  • Are We Re-Criminalizing Status Offense Conduct? Keynote (Annual Conn. Juvenile Court Conference, Oct. 2004)
  • Juvenile Justice and The Adolescent Brain, Presenter MGH Center on Law Brain and Behavior (CLBB- Harvard Medical School 2015)
  • The Future of Indigent Defense (DOJ, Washington D.C. 2000)
  • A Call To Action, Judicial member of ABA panel moderated by Charles Ogletree; Justice” (D.C. 2008), and New Paradigms in Juvenile Justice, (Boston 2009); Cradle/School to Prison Pipeline; “Keeping Kids In School and Out of Court” (N.Y.C. 2014)
  • Deconstructing The Cradle-to-Prison-Pipeline, ABA-American Psychological Association conference, (D.C. 2014)
  • Restorative Justice and the School to Prison Pipeline (Annual JDAI Conference (Philadelphia, June 2014)
  • Disrupting The Cradle to Prison Pipeline (Keynote at the annual Massachusetts Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Conference, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education,, Boston 2014)
  • Adolescent Development and Juvenile Practice, (ABA Annual Conference, Boston 2014)
  • Re-Thinking Juvenile Justice (Moderator, ABA Webinars (June 2015)
  • Adolescent Brain Development: Youth Status and Juvenile Justice, Presenter, with Leah Somerville, Annual (Conference of Chief Justices and State Court Administrators, Omaha, Nebraska July 2015)
  • Alternatives to the School to Prison Pipeline, (Civil Rights Unit of U.S. Attorney, Harvard School of Education, Cambridge, 2016)
  • Restorative Justice, Presenter, Lives In The Balance Conference (Portland, Maine 2016)
  • Positive School Climates- Keeping Kids In School, Keynote (Clark University, MA, 2016); NCFJCJ Schools Pathways to Juvenile Justice, Atlanta, 2016
  • Bi-Annual Keynote presentations for Middlesex Partnership for Youth Truancy Prevention Conference.

Judge Blitzman also served as consultant for the MacArthur Foundation and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and testified before the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, and Presidential National Rape Elimination Commission. Annual Massachusetts Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Conferences (Planning Committee and Presenter for annual Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) (1996- present)

Publications Include:

  • Let The Sun Shine- Open The Doors to Closed Juvenile Sessions-ABA Criminal Justice (projected publishing date October 2023)
  • Let’s Follow The Science, ABA Criminal Justice (October 2022)
  • Shutting Down The- School-to-Prison Pipeline, ABA Human Rights, Civil Rights and Social Justice (October 2022, July 2022);
  • The State of Juvenile Justice 2018-2-23; Chapters in ABA Criminal Justice Section State of Criminal Justice Annual Publication
  • Transparency and Fairness: Open The Doors, Massachusetts Law Review (March 2021; Vol.102, Number 2)
  • Honoring Chief Justice Ralph Gants, Boston Bar Journal (January 2021)
  • We Need Truth and Reconciliation, Commonwealth Magazine (October 2020)
  • Seize The Opportunity For Expungement, Commonwealth Magazine (July 2020)
  • Justice for Some: A Tale of Two Americas, Juvenile Justice Update, Civic Research Institute (July 2020)
  • It’s Time To Raise The Age, Commonwealth Magazine (June 2020)
  • Police Aren’t Needed In Schools, Commonwealth Magazine (June 2020)
  • Where You Live Matters, Commonwealth Magazine (May 2020)
  • Deconstructing The- School-to-Prison Pipeline (Boston Bar Association Journal (October 2018)
  • Gault’s Promise Revisited: The Search for Due Process, (Juvenile & Family Law Journal, NCJFCJ, July 2018)
  • Realizing Gault’s Promise of Due Process, (Arizona Attorney May 2017)
  • “All Kids Deserve A Second Chance”, (Commonwealth Magazine 2016)
  • Are We Criminalizing Adolescence (ABA Criminal Justice, May 2015)
  • Children’s Rights and Relationships: A Legal Framework, (with Francine Sherman; in Juvenile Justice (Wiley @ Sons 2011)
  • Gault’s Promise; BARRY L. REV. (Vol. 9 Fall 2007)
  • “Access to Justice in Juvenile Court”, MASS. L. REV. (Vol 93, No. 1, 2010)
  • Children’s Attorneys: Should They Be Advocates or Champions, (MA School of Law Winter 2004)
  • Delinquency Practice; Massachusetts Criminal Practice (Lexis- 1998- 2008)
  • Judge Blitzman chaired the Massachusetts Juvenile Court Best Dispositional and Sentencing Practice Committee and co-authored the final report (2016, 2020). He is also the Co-Editor of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court Bench Bar Book (MCLE 2003, 2008, 2011, 2014)
  • Juvenile Justice: Legal, Policy & Political Issues; with David Tannenhaus, Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, Barry Feld, Kate Richtman, Marie Osborne. Aaron Kupchik, Frank Zimring, James Bell, and Diane Geraghty (Focus On Law Studies, ABA Spring 2010)
  • The Theory and Scope of Juvenile Court, (National Academies Press 2001- Juvenile Justice System Workshop, Appendix C)
  • The Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System of the 1990’s: Re-Thinking A National Model (Boston Bar Task Force on Juvenile Justice, with Reginald Lindsay, Wendy Waring, R.J. Cinquegrana, Anthony DeMarco, Jinane Elder- New England Journal on Criminal & Civil Confinement 1991)
  • Juvenile Law Basics (MCLE 1995, 1996); He was also an advisory board member for the Boston Bar Association publication, “Gideon’s New Trumpet” (Boston Bar Association Task Force on Expanding The Civil Right to Counsel, Sept. 2008)

Committee Appointments and Memberships Include:

  • ABA Advisory Member to Uniform Law Commission (ULC) on The Criminalization of School Discipline
  • Co-Chair Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile & Child Welfare Committee (Current)
  • ABA Commission on Youth At Risk (Committee Member (Current)
  • ABA Juvenile Justice Committee
  • ABA Civil Rights and Social Justice member and liaison to Youth At Risk Commission
  • Boston Bar Association Steering Committee: Cradle to Prison Pipeline
  • Judicial Advisory Council- Gault Center- formerly the National Juvenile Defender Center; contributor to national juvenile bench cards on variety of topics (access to counsel; adolescent development; bail, fines, fees; racial and ethnic disparities and bias; sexual orientation, gender identification and expression; this activity is current, and cards are approved by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ)
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) Committee on Judicial Ethics
  • SJC Committee on Rules of Criminal Responsibility
  • SJC Study Group on Judicial Conduct
  • SJC Study Group on Eyewitness Identification
  • SJC Standing Committee on Eyewitness Identification (Current)
  • SJC Trial Court Jury Advisory Committee
  • Massachusetts Trial Court Committee on Fines, Fees, and Assessments
  • Chair and Contributor: Massachusetts Juvenile Court Best Dispositional Sentencing Practices Committee, Report and Bench Card
  • Juvenile Court Raise the Age Study Committee
  • Juvenile Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Designated Juvenile Court Mentor (Current)
  • ABA and MBA Bar Association Foundation Member

Board and Advisory Board Appointments:

  • Discovering Justice- Board Member
  • Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, Affiliate
  • Northeastern University School of Law’s Salus Populi program
  • Northeastern University School of Law’s Center for Public Interest & Collaboration-Advisory Member of Cradle to Prison Pipeline Initiative
  • Massachusetts Access to Justice Fellow for More Than Words
  • Our Restorative Justice (Our RJ) Advisory Board; a co-founder and former Board Member of Our RJ, a diversionary restorative justice program in Middlesex County, MA.
  • Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) Advisory Board; Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member.
  • UTEC- Advisory Board Member
  • Lowell School Strategic Plan- Former Advisory Board Member
  • RISE Cambridge Health Alliance Initiative- Former Advisory Board Member
  • Light of Cambodian Children- former Board Member
  • Massachusetts Children’s Trust- former Board Member

Teaching Appointments:

  • Center on Law Brain and Behavior Faculty, Massachusetts General Hospital (Current)
  • Northeastern University School of Law: Juvenile Courts (Current)
  • Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop Team Leader (Current)
  • Boston College Law School- Deconstructing-The Cradle to Prison Pipeline (Current)
  • Boston University School of Law- Community Courts
  • Suffolk Law School- Trial Advocacy and Criminal Practice
  • University of Massachusetts (Lowell) School of Criminology and Justice Studies (Juvenile Justice)

Awards Include:

  • Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award (ABA Criminal Justice Section 2019)
  • Rebecca Pries Indispensable Friend Award- Middlesex Juvenile Court Clinic (Adolescent Consultation Services 2019).
  • Multi-Systemic Services (MST) Whatever It Takes All-Star (National MST Services Award 2019)
  • State Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Appreciation Award (2019)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Award (first recipient, 2019)
  • Lowell 100 Honoree– International Institute of New England for supporting immigrant and refugee populations in Lowell, MA (2019)
  • Servant of Justice Award (Greater Lowell Bar Association 2016)
  • Adolescent Consultation Services Award (Middlesex Juvenile Court Clinic 2015)
  • Massachusetts Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Special Recognition Award (2013)
  • Justice Leo Lydon Award (Massachusetts Juvenile Bar Association 2009)
  • Boston Bar Association John Brooks Public Service Award
  • Trial Court Innovation Grant to Develop Diversionary Restorative Justice Program in Middlesex County (2014)
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges School Pathways to Juvenile Justice Initiative (In 2013, Middlesex County Juvenile Court was one of sixteen sites selected to participate in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges School Pathways to Juvenile Court Initiative).
  • Boston Inns of Court Best Actor Oscar (2007-2008)
  • Judge Blitzman is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actor’s Equity, and has served as the writer’s consultant on the television series The Trials of Rosie O’Neil, and Judging Amy.
  • The Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS- the state’s public defender agency) annually presents the Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award.


  • Union College, B.A. 1971
  • Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
  • London School of Economics- Junior Year
  • Boston College Law School, J.D. 1974


  • B.A. Union College, 1971
  • J.D. Boston College, 1974