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Conference Recommends Changes in Administration, Procedure to Improve Judicial Efficiency
A package of legislative proposals to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of federal court operations has been sent to Congress by
the Judicial Conference under the rubrics of the “Civil Judicial
Procedure, Administration, and Technical Amendments Act of 2007,” and
the “Criminal Judicial Procedure, Administration, and Technical
Amendments Act of 2007.”
Altogether, there are 34 civil and criminal provisions in
the proposed legislation that the Conference hopes will be introduced
as legislation in the 110th Congress. The provisions would enhance the
administration of the justice system, many of them by making technical
or conforming changes to existing law.
Among the hoped-for improvements under the proposed
Criminal Judicial Procedure, Administration, and Technical Amendments
Act of 2007:
- an automatic increase in the case compensation
maximums for representation of Criminal Justice Act defendants in
non-capital cases by the same percentage as any increases in the hourly
- authorization of intermittent confinement as a condition
of supervised release, with certain limitations, as is now possible as a
condition of probation; and provision for an upward adjustment of the
supervised release term for offenders with extensive criminal histories.
- treatment of most fines and orders of restitution in
criminal offenses as civil debts, payable immediately and collectable by
the Department of Justice or the victim. This change would expand debt
collection techniques, maximize collection levels, and minimize the need
for courts to intervene repeatedly to adjust payment schedules. Under a
separate provision, judges also would be authorized to order
restitution be paid to a broader category of victims for more types of
- authorization of the Director of the Administrative
Office to provide to pretrial defendants and post-conviction offenders
treatment and services, such as equipment and emergency housing,
corrective and preventative guidance and training, and other services
reasonably necessary to protect the public, ensure defendants appear in
court as required, and promote the successful re-entry of offenders into
- appointment of a federal public defender as a non-voting member to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
- restoration of the requirement that a minimum of three federal judges be members of the Sentencing Commission.
- authorization for the 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to sit en banc.
- revision of the federal anti-profiteering statute to
provide that, as a condition of probation and supervised release, a
defendant convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is a crime of
violence may not receive any proceeds derived from that offense.
- restoration of broad designation authority to the Bureau
of Prisons in the assignment of prisoners to residential re-entry
Among the improvements recommended in the proposed Civil
Judicial Procedure, Administration, and Technical Amendments Act of
- reduction in the amount of time—from 30 to five
days—a petit juror is required to serve before becoming eligible for the
supplemental daily fee.
- repeal of the present exemption or bar from jury service
for members of fire and police departments and public officers, unless
they request to be excused.
- the addition of magistrate judges to those judges in
active service who may, by statute, be invited to attend circuit
- authorization for the Southern District of Iowa’s
Western division to hold civil trials, upon consent of the parties, in
nearby Omaha, Nebraska.