Page 13 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 elevate the expertise of defense attorneys, meet their needs, or preserve their indepen- dence—have only worsened over the years while the number of defendants in federal court who cannot afford to hire their own attorney has increased significantly.
Talk of administrative flaws might sound like a merely bureaucratic or even trivial matter. It is not. Genuine independence is crucial to providing a high-quality defense—not just in some cases but in all cases. It must be the standard of practice in federal courts nationwide. Under the current administrative structure too many attorneys are compromised—if not hamstrung—by the lack of financial resources, training and guidance, and latitude to mount a skilled and vigorous defense of their clients in federal court. When the defense is undermined in these ways, the inno- cent are more likely to face wrongful conviction and the guilty are more likely to face harsher punishment, including execution. The failures that play out tragically in individual lives are systemic.
We can do better. Over the course of the past two years at hearings around the country we met scores of judges, attorneys, and others with a deep commitment
to justice in the federal courts. Many of them referred to our system as “the gold standard,” and called on us to make it shine in practice; not just on paper. A fully independent entity governing the provision of public defense in the federal courts is the goal, one that we must move steadily toward by educating members of Congress and the public about why independence matters. It is our sincere hope that this Committee’s report sparks and guides a process that achieves this goal.
While it will take action by Congress to realize the original and full intent of the 1964 Criminal Justice Act, the transition to independence can begin now. This Committee has outlined interim steps the judiciary can take on its own to confer greater authority and autonomy to members of the defense community, changes that raise the quality of defense in individual cases.
On behalf of the entire Committee, we wish to thank Chief Justice Roberts for the honor of being selected to serve and for entrusting us with a challenging assign- ment. It was difficult because of its scope and also because we had to collect our own data since much of the data we sought to evaluate this billion-dollar-plus govern- ment program was lacking. That too is something to remedy beginning now. Reviews such as ours are infrequent, but we need much better data to effectively manage a system that the public funds and that so many Americans rely on for justice.
  Honorable Kathleen Cardone
No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7
Honorable Edward C. Prado
Chair Emeritus
States unless approved by the Conference itself.
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 xi

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