Page 202 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 202

 158 2 0 1 7
panel attorneys from embarking on any work that will not be compensated. Ironically, it is possible that providing compensation for these activities would save the taxpayer money. This is true of both brainstorming specific issues rele- vant to particular cases as well as more general discussion of legal issues relevant to criminal practice. By consulting with colleagues who can point them toward precedent, or transcripts, or even knowledge of a particular judge’s views of a subject, federal defenders save time by avoiding dead ends and quickly locat-
ing useful resources. Federal defenders are able to spot and cull issues, to know whether to pursue a line of legal or factual investigation, or having decided to pursue it, where to begin. Panel attorneys, were they freer to consult with federal defenders and their colleagues, could reap some of these same benefits.
7.1.5 Expertise
Federal defenders are experts in federal criminal law because they do nothing else. In many districts, panel lawyers receive only a few appointments each year, often not enough to maintain proficiency in federal defense, and almost never enough to make a living. They must devote a substantial portion of their energies to areas other than federal criminal defense. Even in those districts where there are a large number of appointments in a given year, panel lawyers are often advised they should not make the CJA their entire practice. More than 90 percent of all federal defendants have appointed counsel. Some of the remainder who hire counsel will rely upon the white-collar crime practice groups of large firms. Therefore, the typical panel lawyer cannot devote herself solely to the practice of federal criminal defense. She is disad- vantaged in comparison to both federal defenders and prosecutors.
7.1.6 Compensation
The CJA’s low rate of payment for attorney work diminishes the quality of repre- sentation provided. It drives some of the best attorneys out of panel work. As one panel attorney testified, “More importantly, it is my opinion and the opinion of some others that what we are experiencing right now in [the district] is the loss of an entire generation of our best and brightest panel attorneys.”729 A circuit court judge told the Committee, “We do lose people. We do lose a lot of good people to the rate system.”730 While a magistrate judge testified, “I can only hope and pray that you guys are going to raise the rates so that we can keep our panel at the same quali- ty.”731 A panel attorney in Boston told the Committee that qualified attorneys are leaving his panel for financial reasons. As he explained, “The economics of doing
729 MarkWindsor,CJAPanelAtty.,C.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel3,Tr.,at7. 730 JudgeLuisRestrepo,3rd.Cir.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel2a,Tr.,at12.
731 Mag.JudgeCherylPollack,E.D.N.Y.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel2b,Tr.,at28.
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.

   200   201   202   203   204