Page 105 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 payment at that time. This strategy had been used successfully in past funding crises to prevent long-lasting damage to institutional defenders. But DSC did not have the authority to authorize this course of action. The Executive Committee alone could approve a spending plan. It declined to authorize delaying year-end payments to CJA panel attorneys, requiring instead that cuts of nearly ten percent be imposed on defender offices. These cuts had to be absorbed in roughly half of the fiscal year. The results were both predictable and catastrophic.
As noted above, on a large scale, defenders laid off and furloughed workers. Many valued employees, demoralized, left the program. And when funding was restored the following year, it went unused as defenders, having just faced near devastation from the way their budgets had been managed, were wary of hiring new employees. Federal defenders who did attempt to hire found out that high-quality prospective employees, aware that defenders had laid off employees only the prior year, were reluctant to apply for those positions defenders sought to fill. As a result, defender staffing has lagged behind needs for years.
Though the Executive Committee’s fiscal year 2013 spending plan largely spared CJA panel attorneys the effects of sequestration cuts, the following year’s plan did not. The Budget Control Act called for further sequestration cuts in suc- cessive years. DSO estimated that, were institutional defenders to be forced again to absorb the entirety of the account’s shortfalls, federal defender offices would be subject to budget cuts of up to 23 percent with staffing cuts at an even higher level.
In FY 2014 the Defender Services Committee again recommended to the Executive Committee that a spending plan address the shortfall by deferring year- end panel payments (those that would become due a year later in August and September of 2014) and seek from Congress supplemental funding to avoid any actual delays. The Executive Committee chose instead to impose a ten percent cut on defenders, a $15/hour reduction to the panel attorneys’ rate, and a brief deferral of year-end panel attorney payments as a way of addressing the possible shortfall. The $15 reduction to the panel attorney hourly rate went into effect in September 1, 2013, and lasted until February 28, 2014.228
In October of 2013, after a government shutdown, Congress reached a bud- getary agreement increasing discretionary spending. A subsequent appropriation funded the Defender Services account at a level that could no longer (after layoffs had taken place) be used. A drop in the panel attorney appointments further dimin- ished demands on the account. The following year, the Defender Services account showed an over $75 million surplus.
Despite this $75 million-plus surplus, CJA panel attorneys have never been made whole following the rate reduction. The Defender Services Committee urged JCUS to seek full funding of the panel’s statutorily-authorized rate ($144/hour at
228 GuidetoJudiciaryPolicy,7A,Ch.2§230.16(A).
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 61
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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