Budget cuts in FY 2013 led to loss of staff and furloughs in Federal Defender Offices nationwide, which seriously eroded the ability of the Defender Services program to ensure the right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, the Criminal Justice Act (18 U.S.C. § 3006A), and other Congressional mandates. IT and distance-learning initiatives launched this year helped to conserve resources and maintain support for Federal Defender Offices and panel attorneys.
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In FY 2013, the Defender Services program nationwide provided approximately 227,000 representations to financially eligible persons under the Criminal Justice Act.
New Defender Case Management System Debuts
In FY 2013, all 81 federal defender organizations in districts across the country began using a new web-based system, defenderData, to manage their case information; schedule events; generate, edit, index, and search case-related documents; and produce reports. The defenderData system has been adapted exclusively for federal defenders and replaces a more than 15-year-old decentralized legacy system.
Everything about a case, from information about clients and charges to case disposition, can be accessed by a federal defender using defenderData. The system is user-friendly and is able to generate reports on cases received, closed, or pending, as well as on a variety of case-related data monitored by the federal defender organization.
CJA Case-Budgeting Webinar Developed
An interactive webinar was developed this year on the case budgeting of capital prosecutions and non-capital mega cases when a Criminal Justice Act (CJA) private “panel” attorney is appointed.
The webinar was designed for an audience of judicial officers and court staff who would have responsibility for: (1) providing information to appointed CJA panel attorneys regarding the procedures and requirements for the development of a budget (and possibly to help guide counsel in the budget’s development), and/or (2) reviewing for recommendation and/or approving a submitted budget. The webinar draws upon the budgeting experience of case-budgeting attorneys and judges, as well as additional online materials.