Page 183 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 6.2 Appointment and Oversight of Federal Public Defender Offices
Federal public defender640 offices across the country offer robust, efficient, and ded- icated defense to their clients, and the delivery of that defense is typically free from any direct judicial interference. However, testimony described judicial involvement that diminished the independence of individual federal public defenders. Federal public defenders were reticent to speak frankly with the Committee about this interference. Nevertheless, defenders described effects of judicial control over their offices, as well as actual judicial involvement in defender operations.
6.2.1 FPD Appointment and Reappointment Issues
The CJA provides circuit courts the authority to appoint the federal public defender for each district within the circuit for a renewable four-year term.641 Similar to a panel lawyer, the defender representing litigants before the court has their future job status controlled by that same court. As one federal public defender explained, the four-year renewal cycle can undermine the stability of defender offices:
Currently, when a Defender position is advertised, the circuit makes clear that there is no presumption that the incumbent will be reappointed. Presumably, this language is included to encourage qualified individuals to apply for the position. The language, however, creates uncertainty over the future direction of the office that has a potentially destabilizing impact.642
Not all circuits handle the reappointment process this way. In some circuits,
if an FPD seeks reappointment, the position is not advertised nor are additional candidates sought. Instead, a reappointment committee is formed to evaluate the current FPD’s performance. And although this is not as potentially disruptive to the office as the uncertainty caused by the advertising of the head of the office’s position every four years, it still can be unsettling for the organization.
The circuit court reappointment process can create the perception, whether correct or not, that the judiciary has undue influence over the defense. While the federal defender is appointed by the circuit, district court judges provide input on selection and reappointment determinations.643 One federal public defender wrote that the “selection of federal defenders by the circuit was meant to provide some
640 Federalpublicdefendersareappointedbythecircuitandarejudicialemployees,asopposedto community defenders, who are appointed by an independent board of directors and are not judicial employees. See 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(g)(2).
641 18U.S.C.§3006A(g)(2)(A).
642 MichaelCaruso,FPD,S.D.Fla.PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel1,Writ.Test.,at6. 643 U.S.C.18§3006A(g)(2)(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 139
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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