Page 27 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 The Case for Independence
The Criminal Justice Act was the product of considerable debate and compromise between the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. But one contentious issue was not debated on the floor of Congress—where to situate this new public defense program. The Attorney General was the nation’s top prosecutor, so the Department of Justice was out of the question. And no other Executive Branch agency seemed well suited to nurture a fledgling criminal defense program. As the Wall Street Journal reported in August of 1964, “the Judicial Conference pri- vately urged the [Johnson] Administration and Congress to find someone else to run the program.”16 Even from the beginning it was understood that the mission and practice of the public defense function was a poor match with the goals and expertise of the judiciary. But with nowhere else to put the program, “the judges got the job.”17
As early as 1969, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger lamented that Congress
had not created a separate entity to administer the program. He believed judges should maintain a “real and an active interest,” but felt “the governance of a public defender or a legal aid system should be insulated from the courts.”18 By 1970, when Congress was considering amendments to the Criminal Justice Act that would give judicial districts the option of creating defender offices, many lawmak- ers shared Chief Justice Burger’s view. A Senate Committee report cast the judi- ciary as a temporary home for the program, acknowledging “the need for a strong independent administrative leadership,” and called upon Congress to review such
16 JohnJ.Haugh,TheFederalCriminalJusticeActof1964:CatalystintheContinuingFormulationof the Rights of the Criminal Defendant, 41 Notre Dame L. Rev. 996, 1005, n.68 (1966).
17 Id.
18 Proceedingsatthe1969JudicialConf.,U.S.CourtofAppeals,TenthCircuit:MinimumStandardsfor
Criminal Justice, 49 F.R.D. 347, 374 (1969).
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 xxv
A Senate Committee report cast the judiciary as a temporary home for the program, acknowledging “the need for a strong independent administrative leadership,”
and called upon Congress to review such prospects “until the time
is right to take the next step.”
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.
 




















































































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