Page 36 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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Defender offices and panel administration should be overseen by a local board consisting of an uneven number of members (three minimum, seven maximum), each with a demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to indigent defense. Initial boards shall be appointed through a collaborative process involving the local district courts, Community and/or Federal Defender Office, and CJA panel attorney district representative, in consultation with the national structure outlined above. Local bar organizations or other interested stakeholders may also participate in the appointment process. Each district is encouraged to create boards that are represen- tative of and responsive to local needs. While judges will be involved in the initial appointments, boards should be self-perpetuating, and judges may not serve as board members. Board members, who should serve without compensation, may
be asked to serve for five-year staggered terms and remain on the board until their vacancy is filled. As is currently the case with some defender offices, multiple dis- tricts may be governed by a single board, or a district may choose to have a board in each division, depending on caseload and/or geography.
Local boards should collaborate with leadership of the defender office to develop a defense delivery plan and appoint a panel administrator to be approved by the independent national defense commission. Like the current CJA plans, these plans would address the recruitment, selection, retention, and removal of panel attorneys, and would incorporate best practices as outlined in the CJA Model Plan. Local boards, defenders, and panel administrators also would collectively develop a system for voucher review as well as an appeal process for those attorneys whose vouchers are cut for reasons other than clerical error.
Additionally, no district shall be without access to a case budgeting attorney
to help panel attorneys plan expenses and seek reimbursement in all cases, not just extended or complex ones. Case-budgeting attorneys will no longer be employed by the courts but by local boards within the panel administration office or by the inde- pendent national commission. In districts with high caseloads or a history of large, complex cases to support such a position, the local CJA plan should provide suffi- cient resources to employ a case budgeting attorney for the district. Otherwise, mul- tiple districts may work with a single case budgeting attorney. Local boards should work in consultation with the national defense commission to implement a solution that meets local needs.
Benefits of the Recommended Restructuring
Creating a new, independent entity within the judiciary that can continue to make use of resources available through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts would control costs and be least likely to disrupt the ongoing provision of representation for defendants in federal courts.
As discussed above, the benefits of independence are myriad. Defenders
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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