Matthew “Matty” A. Lopes Jr. is a Principal with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC. For most of his 35-year legal career, he has been actively involved in the court oversight of correctional systems and is a nationally recognized Special Master in correctional reform litigation.
For the past 26 years, he has served as the Special Master for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in the matter of Coleman v. Newsom. As Special Master in this case, Mr. Lopes leads a team of experts and monitors in overseeing the care provided to more than 30,000 seriously mentally ill inmates throughout the 34 institutions within the California prison system.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Lopes served as a court monitor, deputy Special Master and Special Master, respectively, in three additional major remedial correctional cases under the supervision of the United States District Courts of Georgia, Texas and Rhode Island.
- In Alberti v. Sheriff of Harris County (Texas), he led negotiations to achieve an effective remedy for an overcrowded detention system built for 4,500 that had swelled to 14,000.
- In Fambro v. Fulton County (Georgia), he successfully oversaw the implementation of remedial plans approved by the court regarding overcrowding, medical services, and sanitation.
- Inmates of the Youth Training School v. Affleck (Rhode Island) was filed against the original Boys Training School. The court found that the defendants had been handicapped by lack of adequate facilities and trained personnel. As Special Master, he oversaw remediation activities and successfully worked with the Rhode Island General Assembly to approve construction funding for the modernized present-day facility that opened in 2009.
In addition to his current practice as a Special Master in the Coleman v. Newsom case, Mr. Lopes also leads the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice, as well as PLDO Strategies LLC, the government relations and communications subsidiary of the law firm, representing organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to nonprofit businesses, including organizations within the transportation, pharmaceutical, education, food service, health care, and insurance industries, among others.
Along with his distinguished work in prison reform and oversight, he successfully advocated for the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative to improve Rhode Island’s criminal justice system through the enactment of legislation supporting rehabilitation and informed decision-making in sentencing, probation, and parole.
He is also proud to have been intimately involved in the successful Rhode Island 2020 ballot initiative to remove the centuries-old word “plantations” from the official name of the State of Rhode Island.
Having once interned for former Chief Justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., Mr. Lopes has also been inspired to promote and advocate for increased minority representation and diversity in the selection and appointment of Rhode Island’s judiciary.
Mr. Lopes earned his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Rhode Island.
Areas of Practice
- Government and Legislative Strategies
- Special Masterships and Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Rhode Island, 1988
Honors and Awards
- Best Lawyers in America
- Super Lawyers
- Cape Verdean Gala Hall of Fame
- Casque and Gauntlet Sr. Honor Society
- Clay Osborne Achievement Award, Music One
- East Providence Hall of Fame
- Justice Assistance’s 2022 Neil J. Houston Memorial Award
- Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers
- Member of two Ivy League Co-Champion football teams
- Nine-time First Team All-State selection in Track and Football—East Providence High School
- Providence Gridiron Hall of Fame
- Rhode Island International Athlete Scholar Hall of Fame
- University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- J.D. – 1987
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
- A.B. – 1984
- Center for Dispute Settlement
- Advanced Mediation Techniques – 1999
- Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Mediation – 1988
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association
- NAACP Lifetime Member
- National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Potomac Coalition
- Rhode Island Bar Association
- Rhode Island Bar Association/Committee on Minority Involvement (Past Member)
- State Law Resources, Inc. (Board Member, Past Chairman)
- Top 100 National Black Lawyers
- Thurgood Marshall Law Society of Rhode Island
Public Service/Charitable Activities
- Amica – Board Member
- Boys & Girls Club of East Providence
- East Providence Heritage Days Committee
- Friends of Townie Athletics
- Jeffrey Osborne Foundation
- Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council—Board Member
- Ronald McDonald House Providence
- URI Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee
- URI Presidential Transition Committee
- Alpha Phi Alpha
- Special Master for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in the matter of Coleman v. Newsom, overseeing prison reform and compliance with orders of the Court concerning care of seriously mentally ill inmates. As Special Master, Mr. Lopes heads a team of deputy special masters, mental health clinical experts, mental health management/custodial experts, and monitors. Mr. Lopes’ work as Special Master involves addressing complex constitutional law issues relating to the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He assists the Coleman parties and the court in the design and implementation of mandatory mental health screening, diagnosis, and treatment of the approximately 30,000 mentally ill prisoners throughout the 34 institutions within the California prison system. He also reports extensively to the Coleman court on his findings in the California prisons, as well as on other issues as ordered by the court.
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