Page 304 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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Defender Survey
The defender survey incorporated most of the ques- tions from a companion survey conducted in 2009 to evaluate program changes that had occurred since the earlier survey and to assess attorney strategies and per- formance measures set forth in the Defender Services Program Strategic Plan. The 2015 Survey consisted of four parts and 85 questions, including a background section, Part I: Timeliness of CJA Appointments,
Part II: Availability of Qualified Counsel for CJA Representations (for federal defenders only), Part III: FDO Management and Resources (federal defenders only), and Part IV: Training.
Westat emailed instructions for completing the web- based survey to all 81 heads of FDOs and one local CJA resource counsel from each of the three districts not served by an FDO. Subsequent follow-up took place via email and telephone to achieve an overall response rate of 94 percent.
CJA Review Committee Surveys
Given testimony it received, the Committee was espe- cially interested in investigating the circumstances under which panel attorneys’ vouchers are reduced by the court and the rate at which panel attorneys uti-
lize service providers in CJA representations. No such data were available to answer the first question, for so-called voucher cutting is not tracked by the Defender Services Management Information System (“DSMIS”). In addressing the latter issue, the Committee reviewed reports from DSMIS that indicated the number and percentage of panel representations in which service providers were used, as well as the average payment per service provider, in each federal district for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 fiscal years.
To supplement the data from DSMIS on service pro- viders, and to collect firsthand information on voucher review, the Committee conducted its own survey of panel attorneys about their experience in the approval of vouchers and service providers. The first challenge with collecting this information was to create a com- prehensive list, as there is no national database of CJA panel attorneys. To compile the list, the Committee chair and staff reached out to all 94 districts request- ing email addresses for all members of their CJA panel. Because panel management varies across the districts, this outreach was made to federal and community
defenders, CJA administrators and clerks of court, some of whom were resistant to sharing their lists. When we did receive the information, it was delivered in a variety of formats: Word documents, PDFs, email listservs, and Excel files. Ultimately, we successfully located contact information for approximately 10,000 panel attorneys nationwide.
The list from each district was split in two—if we received lists for divisions within a district, those were also split in two—the Committee then sent an elec- tronic survey to half inquiring about voucher review and a separate electronic survey to the other half asking about the use of service providers. Attorneys were con- tacted multiple times by email over several months
to encourage them to respond and were offered the opportunity to respond electronically or through a paper survey. Of the more than 5,000 panel attorneys who received the survey on vouchers, 2660 lawyers responded, for a response rate of 54 percent. Among those queried about service providers, 2599 panel attor- neys participated, reflecting a response rate of 53 per- cent. It is worth noting that, unlike the Westat survey, the Committee queried the universe of panel attor- neys, not a sample, and had a limited number of staff to devote to follow-up. Still, the impressive response rates are more than twice the rate of most national polls and adequately reflect attorneys’ views and experiences from across the country.
The Committee developed the surveys in collabo-
ration with its members, the DSO’s statistician, the Committee’s reporter and staff, and a collection of panel representatives, defenders, and individual attorneys who provided feedback. The voucher survey included 20 questions, asking about the nature of attorneys’ CJA practice, their billing procedures, and their experience with voucher review by the court. The service provider survey encompassed 28 questions and distinguished between non-capital and capital representations. It asked about the nature of attorneys’ CJA practice, their inclination to use service providers, and their dealings with the court in making such requests. Both surveys sought demographic information from respondents and were designed to be short so that attorneys could com- plete them in ten minutes.
No recommendation presented herein represents 260 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 the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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