Page 72 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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reduced the independence of the defense function, within the administrative office, within the judicial conference.”101
Other witnesses echoed this sentiment. A former member of the Prado Committee testified about a 2004 change in the AO’s structure when the director of the AO at the time, Leonidas Mecham, created the Office of Defender Services as an independent directorate within the AO. “He recognized [defenders’] unique impor- tance and recognized the importance not only of the function, but the nature of
the work, and elevated the Office of Defender Services to a distinct high level status within the judiciary, in order to provide judicial input that was deferential to the needs of the defender community.”102 He told the Committee this recognition and respect for the importance of the defender function has been lost. Under the 2013 reorganization of the AO, “ODS [the precursor to DSO] was basically demoted.”103
Given that the “federal judiciary did assume a fiduciary duty to look after
the independence of the defense function,”104 the gradual erosions of institutional protections are troubling, witnesses told the Committee. A former employee with DSO explained that “with the budget armageddon that we have all experienced in the last few years, I think there’s been a scarcity mentality that has set in the judi- ciary and I think a lot of those protections have been eroded.”105 Defenders told the Committee they no longer believed that the administrative structure afforded the program the respect and resources it needed:
I could honestly believe that the defender program was the gold standard for indigent defense in the country if not in the entire world. Then came the demotion [of DSO]. Then came the sequester. Then came the work measurement study. We had known all along that we could not survive without the judiciary in our corner. In this dark time, we were reminded that the judiciary could exert as much influence and control as it desired over the administration of the indigent defense program.106
3.3.1 DSC’s Lack of Decision‐Making Authority Over the CJA Program
Emblematic of the structural tensions between the CJA program and its parent the judiciary is the role of the Defender Services Committee within the JCUS. While it is the mission of the DSC to represent the interests of the CJA program within the JCUS, the Committee heard testimony that the DSC has too little authority to truly advance those interests.
101 SteveWax,LegalDirector,OregonInnocenceProject,PublicHearing—Portland,Or.,Panel1,Tr.,at5. 102 ThomasHillier,FormerFPD,W.D.Wash.,PublicHearing—Portland,Or.,Panel1,Tr.,at1.
103 Id.TheAO’sreorganizationisdiscussedlaterinthissection.
104 StephenMcCue,FPD,D.N.M,PublicHearing—Santa,Fe,N.M.,Panel2,Tr.,at10.
105 Id.at10.
106 LouisAllen,FPD,M.D.N.C.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel1,Tr.,at8.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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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