Page 37 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 37

 themselves would be in a position to persuasively advocate before Congress for the funding needed to adequately compensate panel attorneys and staff defender offices. Panel attorneys would no longer refrain from requesting expert services for fear of undermining their client’s defense, violating attorney-client privilege, or simply annoying judges.
This structure is ideally suited to spreading best practices and deliver-
ing training, both of which are required to provide a consistently high quality of defense. Furthermore, the problems created by the judiciary’s oversight of one side in our adversarial system of justice would no longer exist. Once cre- ated, this new Federal Defense Commission should review its own structure and functioning every seven years to determine whether additional changes or increased independence is required.
To those who argue that independence would imperil federal funding for public defense, subjecting this crucial public service to political whims, the Committee points out that the program is already a separate account in the judiciary’s appropria- tion and Congress has always had the authority to underfund or defund the program as it chooses. Equally important, as seen during sequestration in 2013, defenders have proved themselves to be able advocates, and Congress has demonstrated an understanding of the importance of funding an effective system of public defense.
Finally, the Committee believes that judges’ support for the defender program derives primarily from principles, not self-interest or obligation. As a result, the Committee fully expects that the judiciary as a whole and many individual federal judges—including those who will serve on the proposed commission—will act as allies in support of vibrant defense under this new administrative structure.
That two very different committees nearly twenty-five years apart have come
to the identical conclusion reinforces the need for an independent entity to over-
see public defense in the federal courts. While the Prado Report led to significant reforms, the core issue of independence was left unaddressed. As a result, the major- ity of the problems identified by the Prado Committee remain problems today and in some cases have worsened, as they stem from the lack of independence. Congress viewed judicial implementation of the Criminal Justice Act as the initial phase. The independence recommended by this Committee is a long overdue next step.•
That two very different committees nearly twenty-
five years apart
have come to the identical conclusion reinforces the need for an independent entity to oversee public defense in
the federal courts.
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 xxxv
States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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