Page 247 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 247

 The Committee on Defender Services’ Report on Death Penalty Representation recommended that a full-time attorney in an institutional defender office work on approximately four to six cases at any one time.957 But panel attorneys, who typi- cally lack the support staff and other assistance available to assistant federal public defenders in CHUs, routinely have to juggle more of these very serious cases.
For example, in 2013 a Northern District judge and Southern District judge appointed the same lawyer to two capital habeas cases with peti- tions due on the same day in 2014. This same lawyer was appointed to two capital habeas cases from different districts due within the same week in 2016, and he has 11 other capital habeas cases as well as a sig- nificant non-capital CJA appellate workload....Lawyers with impossibly large caseloads cannot perform the work necessary for adequate repre- sentation in these complex and labor-intensive cases.958
Because there is no centralized office or database to track appointments and caseloads, “the courts often appoint lawyers who have little or no capital habeas experience or have such large caseloads that they are unable to give the cases the attention they require.”959 This means that petitioners with meritorious claims
may be appointed counsel who fail to file the habeas petition within the one-year statute of limitations, precluding any federal review of their clients’ claims. The Committee did not need to rely on testimony and written submissions alone to document these failures; news reports have confirmed that overworked habeas attorneys miss statute of limitations deadlines with alarming frequency in arti-
cles like “Slow Paperwork in Death Row Cases Ends Final Appeals for 9,”960 “The Burnout,”961 and “Death by Deadline.”962 While the weaknesses of the current structure of defense delivery under the CJA are deeply concerning in other areas of criminal defense, they are most stark in these cases where defendants, whose lives hang in the balance, fail to receive adequate and effective representation.
957 CommitteeonDefenderServices,ReportonDeathPenaltyRepresentation(1995),p.12.
958 RichardBurr,TexasRegionalHabeasandAssistanceProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 3.
959 Mark Olive, National Habeas Assistance and Training Counsel, Public Hearing—Birmingham, Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 7.
960 HoustonChronicle(March21,2009),http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Slow- paperwork-in-death-row-cases-ends-final-1736308.php.
961 MarshallProject(June9,2015),https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/06/04/the-burnout#. f7Uksx05b.
962 PartOne,MarshallProject(November15,2014),https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/11/15/ death-by-deadline-part-one#.bMnJCSsNv. See also Part Two (November 16, 2014), https://www. themarshallproject.org/2014/11/16/death-by-deadline-part-two#.xWvcNyorv.
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 203
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.
 




















































































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