Page 106 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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the time) as a way of reducing the surplus and retaining qualified panel members demoralized by the year’s rate cut. The Budget Committee pursued an alternative course. Private attorneys who had accepted CJA appointments prior to sequestra- tion and other budget cuts were forced to accept a reduced rate of payment for work done, and the higher hourly rate was never paid after sequestration ended.
Federal Defenders Become Effective Advocates with Congress
During sequestration the judiciary’s position that the branch must “speak with one voice” and that all contacts with Congress take place through specified staff at the AO limited the federal defenders’ ability to contact Congress on behalf of the Defender Services program and seek additional funding. Thus, the Defender Services program was deprived of its best advocates during a crisis. Additionally, because of the structural conflicts already mentioned above, and the inability
to speak directly to Congress on behalf of the Defender Services program, many defenders believed their concerns would not be conveyed.
Facing dire consequences for the federal indigent defense, some federal defenders made the decision to reach out to Congress directly to request emergency funding to preserve their ability to continue to provide representation to CJA clients. Ultimately, Congress was responsive. Another defender told the Committee that rather than needing judges to protect the program from legislators, the defenders’ experience with reaching out for assistance illustrated:
Part of what we learned from that I think is that Congress was actually fairly responsive, understood those needs. In fact, defenders got one of the two, I think it was, anomalies or special additional amounts of money to help out during that crisis.229
Rather than looking at the defense program with skepticism, a defender testi- fied to the Committee that, “When congressmen asked me for information during the sequestration and we provided it to them and to their staffers, we were greeted with an understanding of what our role is and what we have to do. The skepticism that we thought we would meet was not there.”230
Views on CJA Structure Change Following Sequestration
The effects of the judiciary’s management of appropriation shortfalls under seques- tration have had a profound effect on defenders’ views of the judiciary’s manage- ment of the program. Whether all judiciary accounts bore the brunt of steep budget cuts equally or not, federal defenders and panel attorneys repeatedly asserted to the Committee their belief that they were targeted for greater cuts under sequestration in order to spare the courts’ funding. A former defender testified that historically the
229 ChiefJudgeCatherineBlake,D.Md.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel1,Tr.,at18. 230 JonSands,FPD,D.Ariz.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis,Minn.,Panel5,Tr.,at26.
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.

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