Page 189 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 189

 the Committee that the attorneys he knows on CJA panels are trying to get off the panels and stop taking appointments. According to Mr. Bright, these attorneys were trying to move into private practice “where they can make some money....They’re just practicing on the panel. As soon as they build up enough of a reputation, they’re out of there. They’re going to go off and make some money somewhere. They’re sure not going to make it doing court-appointed work.”659
Mr. Bright, who primarily works on death penalty cases, told the Committee that in his experience with CJA panel attorneys representing defendants in capital habeas cases, there were “a number of cases where the lawyers didn’t even realize their clients were intellectually disabled because they didn’t spend enough time with them. They talked to them so little that they didn’t even pick up on that....You get what you pay for as they say, and you’re not paying very much.”660
However, there were many panel members and federal defenders who dis- agreed with the generalized criticism about panel attorneys. One panel attorney said that in his experience, “I could not more emphatically disagree with the statement that the CJA lawyers are generally of poor quality....Only the best of the best get
on the panel.”661 Another panel attorney testified, “I have to respectfully disagree because I think we have the best attorneys in the district on our panel. They’re not attorneys who do it because they need $129 or whatever it is. They do it because they want to help indigent people.”662
Given conflicting testimony about the quality of representation provided by panel attorneys, the reasonable conclusion to draw was best captured by a profes- sor at the public hearing in Miami, who stated, “I think there’s a mix on the pan- els.”663 And there is a general consensus that the quality of representation provided by panel lawyers is lower than that provided by federal defenders. This view is supported by the results of surveys of judges. Though in these judges’ view, the gap in quality between federal defenders and panel attorneys is closing, the panel still rates consistently lower.664
In 2003, 93.3 percent of all judges reported that federal defenders in non-capital representations were “very good” or “excellent,” whereas only 71.3 percent of judges rated panel attorney quality in assigned CJA cases similarly.665 By 2008, 94.8 percent of judges ranked the overall quality of federal defender representation as “very good” or “excellent,” while 75.9 percent of judges ranked panel attorneys similarly.666
659 StephenBright,President,SouthernCenterforHumanRights,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel 4, Tr., at 32.
660 Id.at33.
661 JuanMilanes,CJAPanelAtty.,D.P.R.&E.D.Va.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel4,Tr.,at34. 662 SabrinaPuglisi,CJAPanelAtty.,S.D.Fla.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel4,Tr.,at33.
663 ProfessorRicardoBascuas,U.ofMiamiSchoolofLaw,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel4,Tr.,at33. 664 WestatSurvey.SeeAppendixC:SurveyDataConsidered.
665 Id.
666 Id.
No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7 R E P O R T O F T H E A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T 145
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.
 



















































































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