Page 252 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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gun wounds” were actually the product of post-mortem insect bites.977
Some district judges don’t understand what is involved or necessary in habeas proceedings, and so will deny requests for services to develop evidence outside the record. One district judge stated to habeas counsel, “I can’t imagine why you would need an investigator to file a Section § 2255 petition which should only involve legal issues” even though such an investigation is crucial to the petition; this judge also informed the appointed attorney that the petitioner “could obtain the services of either a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but not both, despite a demonstrated need in the case for the different types of expertise each could offer. The district judge then cut the requested amount of funds for this expert by two-thirds without explanation.”978 In contrast, one district court judge explained, the statutory presumptive limit of $7,500 under § 3599(g) is “inadequate by more than an order of magnitude.”979
While appointed attorneys face ethical conflicts about how to conduct their appointed cases, petitioners’ due process and Sixth Amendment rights are at stake. A lawyer from Texas described the situation that he and others face:
You’re always way past $7,500, so you have to have the district judge[’s] approval, and the district judge then recommends to the chief judge of the circuit or designee to approve that budget....They take a long time, and the clock is running on the statute of limitations. It creates a terrible vice when you’re working against a one-year statute of limitations. You need the funding, the district court has recommended the funding, it’s way over $7,500, and you’re waiting for the chief judge’s approval or cut. You can’t hire people until that’s done. When you do finally get word that it’s been approved, then you have to have time to catch back up with your investigators and experts because their lives have gone on and they’re continuing to work on other cases. It’s a very difficult process.980
This process for funding investigative and expert services is so fundamentally flawed that the Committee was told it was not voucher cuts but the inability to get resources for service providers that kept attorneys from taking § 2254 and § 2255 appointments.
It’s not their fees. It’s funding for investigation and experts. We know that’s been a huge difficulty within our circuit and within our state....When
I get somebody interested from out of state...I have to talk with them
977 RuthFriedman,Director,FederalCapitalHabeasProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 14–15.
978 Id.at15.
979 JosephSt.Amant(submittedviaJudgeMarciaCrone),SeniorAppellateConferenceAtty.,5thCir.,
Public Hearing—Birmingham, Ala., Panel 1, Writ. Test., at 5.
980 RichardBurr,TexasRegionalHabeasandAssistanceProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Tr., at 32.
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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