Page 116 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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with timely appointed counsel, as well as ensure those counsel will represent defen- dants consistent with the best practices of the legal profession, so that the rights of individuals are safeguarded.
A federal defender told the Committee that plans were essential to creating a knowledgeable, experienced panel of private attorneys to take CJA appointments, as they provide “a structure for admitting members to the CJA panel and removing them.”273 Without such a structure, unqualified attorneys are appointed to represent individuals charged with serious offenses.274 The Committee heard repeatedly that CJA plans that contain these types of provisions are necessary to provide high-qual- ity representation by CJA panel attorneys. Conversely, the absence of a plan creates serious concerns about the quality of representation.
Despite the requirements of the CJA, there are districts or divisions where there is no CJA plan, or no list of panel attorneys to be assigned by the courts. The President of NACDL told this Committee, “I get calls from lawyers all the time in civil firms and they are saying I just got an appointment, what should I do?”275 In one division of the Western District of Texas, every attorney who is a member of the federal bar regardless of practice area is automatically deemed to be a member of the panel. As a result unqualified, inexperienced lawyers receive appoint- ments—one of the problems the Criminal Justice Act was passed to correct. The federal defender for that district told the Committee that she and the two previous defenders before her tried unsuccessfully to get the division to adopt a plan.276 The division has a tradition, she testified,
of picking someone out of [the] audience to represent the client or pick- ing up the phone and calling somebody to do it....[I]f there’s only a civil lawyer who has never done criminal work, the first thing they do is they call the branch chief in Austin and our office will help walk that person through the case. It becomes very problematic though, if we have a co-defendant because then we can’t offer that assistance because of the privilege and confidentiality issues.277
A federal defender in another district in Texas told the Committee about something in his district informally called a “non-voluntary panel,” in which lawyers are conscripted to represent defendants.278 He told the Committee that his office
is “currently shepherding through a case where the lawyer...only practices tax law and [has] no real experience in doing these types of cases.279 Given the complex
 273 274 275 276 277 278 279
LisaFreeland,FPD,W.D.Pa.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel3,Tr.,at13. Id.at13–14. E.GerryMorris,Pres.NACDL,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel4,Tr.,at26. MaureenFranco,FPD,W.D.Tex.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel2,Tr.,at26. Id. JasonHawkins,FPD,N.D.Tex.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel2,Tr.,at25. Id.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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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