Page 212 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 212

 168 2 0 1 7
representation of the highest quality while improving the overall quality of defense in a district. One panel attorney told the Committee that the primary reason the CJA program has been,
so spectacularly effective is that we’ve managed to put a defender in [nearly] every district in the country. A defender who receives enough money to do their job and to do it well . . . what’s happened in the smaller districts I think over the last ten or fifteen years, what’s hap- pened is that it’s raised the bar in the district. The Judges now see what competent counsel on the defense side is, and they are starting to expect it from all of their lawyers.778
Defender offices enhance the quality of representation by modeling best practices and demonstrating the importance of access to resources. They can
also improve the panel by assisting in its management, answering questions from panel attorneys, supplying guidance regarding the use of service providers, and providing training for panel attorneys. As one defender testified, “I don’t think you can discount the importance of the relationship of the defender office as setting
a standard, hopefully with consistent representation that all the panel members will see.” 779 The defender emphasized that his office offers panel attorneys train- ing and personal assistance and advice, which are required necessities, “especially as the federal criminal practice has become increasingly far more technical and littered with land mines.”780
By contrast, in districts without defender organizations, quality suffers. The defender from the Middle District of Georgia testified that in the Southern District, which does not have a defender office, “they have bankruptcy lawyers representing bank robbers who have no idea what is going on, and what the rules are and how to implement the rules, how to even do the most basic things.”781 This defender went on to explain that, while her office fields calls from panel attorneys in the Southern District, it’s “a whole different ballgame there and we are not as familiar with the judges in that district as we are with our own. So, they are at a disadvantage and their clients are placed at an enormous, enormous disadvantage.”782
This system produces grievous consequences for clients appointed these attor- neys. A panel attorney described an insurance attorney who decided to start taking CJA panel cases, was assigned to represent a client facing a potential life sentence, and then was proud, “he plead[ed] out his client to a life sentence.”783 Resource
778 DanielScott,CJADist.Rep.,D.Minn.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis,Minn.,Panel5,Tr.,at4. 779 LouisAllen,FPD,M.D.N.C.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel1,Tr.,at7.
780 Id.
781 TinaHunt,Exec.Dir.,CDO,M.D.Ga.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,N.M.,Panel3,Tr.,at13.
782 Id.
783 AmyLeeCopeland,CJAPanelAtty.,S.D.Ga.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel5,Tr.,at9.
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.

   210   211   212   213   214