Page 94 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 94

 50 2 0 1 7
programs” on which defenders should be heard.180
One federal defender told the Committee he believed that defenders needed
legislative access through official channels that wasn’t informal or “by virtue of personal relationships.”181 He explained, “We have a constitutionally and congres- sionally mandated budget, and yet we have no voice in legislative or budget deci- sions....If we are committed to structural independence within the judiciary, as the lowest common denominator at minimum, there must be a defender voice, and
a DSO voice, on legislative decisions such as budgetary decisions.”182 Recognizing the importance of ongoing relationships with budget appropriations staffers in Congress, the Chief of Defender Services pointed out that it would be defenders that could best represent their own program. Not only do defenders have “survey data, but we also could answer questions and tell stories. That ongoing relationship is very critical when Congress is deciding on our budget, and defender involvement would add more substance and information to those discussions.”183
The DC Public Defender Service, which requests its own budget from Congress directly as an independent agency, is an example of how advocacy for public defense, independent of judicial oversight, can be effective. The former General Counsel of that organization told the Committee,
The directors at PDS have good relationships with the Hill. They know the program inside and out. They’ve lived the program. They can explain it to Congress. It is no different than any other audience, and they come in as subject-matter experts. They come in passionate about what they do. They know their performance, and they know the outcomes they’re achieving, and they can describe it to Congress.184
The Committee agrees that, as “subject-matter experts,” defenders have an important role to play in advocating for their needs before Congress.
A representative from The Constitution Project, a non-profit which focuses on constitutional rights and criminal justice issues, echoed those sentiments, telling the Committee that federal defenders and panel attorneys are “really fantastic advocates with Congress. They can speak with meaning about what budget cuts will do to cli- ents and people on the ground...[I]t is really important to have that independence, to allow for an independent entity to advocate for federal public defenders with Congress because those budget cuts are impacting their offices.”185 She went on:
180 ChiefJudgeCatherineBlake,D.Md.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel1,Tr.,at4. 181 SteveKalar,FPD,N.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel7,Tr.,at2.
182 Id.at7.
183 CaitClarke,Chief,DSO,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel1,Tr.,at20.
184 JuliaLeighton,GeneralCounsel,PublicDefenderServiceforD.C.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis, Minn., Panel 1, Tr., at 17.
185 Madhuri Grewal, Senior Counsel, The Constitution Project, Public Hearing—Philadelphia, Pa., Panel 8, Tr., at 13.
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.

   92   93   94   95   96