Page 239 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 habeas proceedings. HAT counsel are experienced federal habeas corpus practi- tioners who work part-time on a contract basis with the Defender Services Office and provide consulting, training, and related services to CHUs, CJA panel attor- neys, and the federal judiciary. There are currently four regional HATs and one national HAT.
9.3 Problems in Federal Capital Representations
As outlined in other sections of this report, there are significant weaknesses in the structure and delivery of federal defense under the CJA. Capital representations put those structural failures in stark relief.
Many federal judges are not familiar with the nature of criminal defense and are even less knowledgeable about what it takes to provide a strong defense in a death penalty case, because these cases are relatively rare.922 Only a small minority of federal judges have presided over a capital prosecution. And federal judges who work in states without the death penalty may be even less familiar with capital habeas corpus proceedings.
Lacking this experience—and/or in some places lack of access to qualified attorneys—judges often struggle with selecting and appointing the learned coun- sel required in direct death cases and capital habeas cases. A district court judge confirmed this, telling the Committee, “Capital habeas cases, like capital prose- cutions, necessitate experienced attorneys since the stakes are high. Locating an appointed qualified counsel is not always easy, nor [is] reviewing vouchers for reasonableness, and capital habeas cases tend to be more difficult than . . . stan- dard cases.”923
In habeas cases, given the one-year statute of limitations (or even 6 months under fast-track procedures discussed below), the failure to promptly appoint quali- fied counsel can have dire consequences. Delay in appointing counsel may result in a significantly curtailed investigation and therefore an incomplete habeas petition.
Lacking capital experience, many judges may also be unaware of the need
922 PerDOJpolicy,theU.S.AttorneyGeneralmustpersonallyreviewandauthorizeanycase where the death penalty is sought. Between 1995 and 2000, the U. S. Attorney General authorized U.S. Attorneys to seek the death penalty for 160 out of 1,070 capital-eligible defendants (14.9%).
The death penalty was authorized for 247 out of 1,260 capital-eligible defendants (19.6%) between 2001 and 2008, and for 52 out of 1,209 capital-eligible defendants (4.2%) between 2009 and 2016. These data show, even over some recent periods, that few defendants were authorized for the death penalty in relation to those potentially eligible for it. The highest average was in the early 2000s with approximately 31 capital prosecutions per year. The most recent years had an average of just over seven capital prosecutions per year.
923 JudgeMarciaCrone,E.D.Tex.,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala.,Panel1,Tr.,at3.
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 195
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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