Page 227 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 8.3 Challenges in Recruiting Diverse Attorneys
Although many professionals within the CJA community understand that diversify- ing the attorney pool is important, achieving that goal can be difficult, especially in those districts that face demographic limitations and geographic challenges.
In districts with a large number of Spanish-speaking clients, panels struggle to attract criminal defense lawyers who speak Spanish with sufficient fluency to com- municate effectively with their clients. As a federal public defender from a border district told the Committee, “most of the clients in our border office speak Spanish. We advertise for lawyers as ‘Spanish fluency preferred,’ but the language issue further limits an already small pool of interested and qualified applicants.”866 This problem could be partly ameliorated with the use of qualified language interpreters. However, in remote districts with a high volume of foreign-language-speaking defendants, some who speak rare indigenous languages, the lack of interpreters is a further com- plication. Often, even when interpreters are available, there aren’t enough to handle the heavy volume of cases, especially since interpreters are needed on multiple occa- sions throughout a case. Attorneys rely on an interpreter to effectively communicate with their client on a one-to-one basis, which may require traveling to remote deten- tion locations. And in preparation for trial, attorneys require the use of an interpreter to review discovery, plea agreements, and other documentation.
The Committee also heard testimony that in some districts the majority of panel attorneys, especially those who are bilingual or of color, live in cities, hours away from where the majority of cases are prosecuted. In New Mexico, for example, a panel lawyer explained: “Our 2015 CJA Panel has approximately 101 members in Albuquerque and 35 members in Las Cruces.”867 Despite the small size of the panel in Las Cruces, the vast majority of criminal cases in the district are brought there, and most require Spanish-speaking attorneys. Given that Las Cruces is a three-hour drive from Albuquerque, it is rare for panel attorneys in Albuquerque to be assigned to cases in Las Cruces.868 The Committee heard that this scenario repeats itself in district after district where some of the busiest federal courts require attorneys to travel extended distances from their homes in metropolitan areas.
In other districts, the problem is attracting attorneys to a rural location. In the Middle District of Georgia, for example, the community defender explained:
It’s very difficult...to find diverse employees, and the reason that I say
866 StephenMcCue,FPD,D.N.M.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel2,Writ.Test.,at3. 867 AmySirignano,CJAPanelAtty.,D.N.M.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel3,Tr.,at9.
868 Id.at21.ThepanelattorneyexplainedthatCJApanelattorneysinAlbuquerqueonly“get appointed on a case down in the southern part of the state...if we get these multiple defendant cases where they just [run] out of CJA panel members.” 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 183
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.
 























































































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