Page 102 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 102

 58 2 0 1 7
3.6 Examples of How Structural Conflicts Influence the Administration of the CJA
3.6.1 The Lessons of Sequestration
In FY 2013, a budget crisis known as “sequestration” that occurred during the same time period as other budget cuts, had a debilitating effect on federal defender orga- nizations and CJA panel attorneys across the country. The impact of this crisis was well-publicized in the national media and recognized by the judiciary and Congress.
Sequestration refers to the across-the-board spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub.L. 112–25, S. 365, 125 Stat. 240, enacted August 2, 2011) which were amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (Pub.L. 112–240, H.R. 8, 126 Stat. 2313, enacted January 2, 2013). When these severe cuts to the federal budget were conceived, and ultimately passed, Congress believed the con- sequences would be “so dangerous, and so reckless” that it would provide an incen- tive to pass a responsible budget to confront the nation’s spiraling deficits. Instead, Congress failed to act, and the severe cuts went into effect on March 1, 2013.220
Sequestration’s Impact on the Defender Services Program
Due to the effects of sequestration and other budget cuts, from the end of September 2012 through September 2013, federal public defender organization staff levels dropped from 2,778 to 2,497 full time equivalent (FTE) employees, a reduction of 281, or approximately 10 percent of the total FPDO workforce. In addition, in FY 2013, over 149,000 hours (approximately 18,625 days) of furloughs and 21,000 hours of leave without pay were taken by federal defender organization staff. The initial FY 2014 on-board staffing levels for all federal defender organizations were 9.5 percent below the Defender Services Committee-approved staffing levels. These widespread furloughs and layoffs in FY 2013 caused an unprecedented loss of experienced federal defender staff and, in some offices, created an untenable conflict between choosing to hire a needed expert for a case or furloughing more defender staff.
Sequestration also negatively affected CJA panel attorneys. A temporary emer- gency rate cut of $15 per hour for both capital and non-capital cases went into effect to already below market rates. On September 17, 2013, this hourly-rate reduction was followed by several weeks of delays in panel attorney payments due to insuffi- cient funds in the Defender Services account and the partial government shutdown. Additionally, a reduction in the national training budget for substantive legal train- ing for both defenders and panel attorneys drastically decreased training on the substantive legal knowledge and skills necessary for criminal defense practice.
220 SeeSenateJudiciaryCommittee’sSubcommitteeonBankruptcyandtheCourtsheldahearing entitled, “Sequestering Justice: How the Budget Crisis is Undermining Our Courts.” July 2013, pg. 1-2.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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 the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.

   100   101   102   103   104