Page 190 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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In the most recent study in 2015, 95.6 percent judges ranked overall non-capi- tal federal defender representation as “very good” or “excellent,” and 80.9 percent of judges gave panel attorneys high scores for providing quality representation.667 The recent survey showed a higher percentage of judges ranking panel attorney quality of representation as “very good” or “excellent” across all competency areas surveyed.668 Of course, these surveys must be considered with some caution. As discussed else- where, judges see only a small part of the representation, that which takes place in court. And there is also the phenomenon revealed by surveys conducted during the course of the Allen Committee’s study. In 1962 two editors from the Harvard Law Review conducted their own research into the state of federal public defense.669 They found that without institutional support or payment, assigned counsel’s role was lim- ited, and most of these attorneys spent less than three hours of out-of-court prepa- ration per client.670 Guilty pleas were prefaced only by “a hurried ten-minute con- ference in a corner of the courtroom.”671 Those who were assigned counsel received young, inexperienced lawyers, “little versed in the technicalities of the criminal law or the questioning of accused persons,” with “little if any courtroom experience.”672 Attorneys were reluctant to refuse a judge’s assignment to a case because “they might later have to appear before [the judge] on an important matter.”673
Despite the negative conclusions the article came to about the system as a whole, the majority of lawyers and judges interviewed found the ad hoc system
to provide “adequate” or “very adequate” representation.674 Perhaps because of the low expectations of counsel for indigent defendants, or perhaps because those within the system had limited perspective and exposure, 93 percent of lawyers and judges believed that counsel performed sufficiently.675
That dynamic in which a system’s participants become blind to the system’s defects is likely still a factor today.
7.1.1 Resources
Nearly all witnesses agreed that the lack of resources available to panel attor- neys is one major source of disparity. As one defender stated, “[T]here is simply
667 Id.
668 Id.Thegreatestincreasewas8.3percentincompetencyofcourtroomtechnology,followedbyan increase of 7.9 percent in knowledge/application of U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and case sentencing law, and 7.1 percent increase in oral advocacy. See id.
669 BruceJ.Havighurst&PeterMacDougall,Note,TheRepresentationsofIndigentCriminalDefendants in the Federal District Courts, 76 Harv. L. Rev. 579 (1963).
670 Id.at588. 671 Id.at589. 672 Id.at596. 673 Id.at591. 674 Id.at588. 675 Id.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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 the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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