Page 121 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 121

 approach the review with the panel, the relationship they have with the panel to be able to persuade the panel to take cases when they have frustrations or when they maybe have full caseloads....That’s a cost that the court doesn’t have to have.... We’re not getting any benefit additions to our budget by virtue of taking that administrative responsibility away from the court, but I think we provide an amazing service.305
In some other districts, local CJA committees or boards that assist with panel administration have proven to be effective. Tasks of these committees include panel selection and removal and voucher review. Committee members often include judges, the CJA panel attorney district representative, the federal defender, and other experienced defense attorneys. According to a CJA panel attorney representa- tive in one district, the local CJA committee “screens, investigates, does due dili- gence on every single panel applicant to our district. We are invited by the court to discipline lawyers when and if the need arises.”306 These structural elements, this witness said, are institutionalized in the CJA plan and transparent to panel attor- neys, and help create a strong culture of defense in the district. She provided the following example of how the disciplinary process works:
There was an attorney, a very, very valuable member of our panel. Many of the judges thought he over-billed, thought his bills were excessive, unreasonable. Instead of simply arbitrarily cutting him from the panel, they came to us and they said, “We have a problem with this person. We want you to look at it, tell us, do we have a real problem here or not?”
We looked at the issue....We peer counseled that person. The person changed his billing practices. That person is now a fully respected, happy member of our panel, the judges enjoy his work. He turns in excellent work. I think without our structure, that sort of situation could have been combustible. It could have led to rancor. It could have led to somebody being summarily dismissed from the panel and then infecting the attitude in the panel towards the judiciary.307
The most common function of these mixed committees involves panel selection. One judge explained how revamping his district’s selection committee improved the quality of representation. “When I first started we had people who were appointed to two-year terms, but they were just automatically renewed. Unless you committed some act of misconduct and were removed by the judge you just stayed on the panel forever.”308 Under the current plan, the selection committee
305 HeatherE.Williams,FPD,E.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel7,Tr.,at26.
306 MaryMcNamara,CJADist.Rep.,N.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel6,Tr.,at20. 307 Id.at21.
308 JudgeRobertScola,Jr.,S.D.Fla.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel2,Tr.,at24.
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 77
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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