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Criminal Justice Act - Judicial Business 2015

The Criminal Justice Act (CJA) provides funding for the representation of individuals with limited financial resources in federal criminal proceedings. In each district, a plan exists for providing representation through private panel attorneys and, where established, federal public or community defender organizations. This year, 81 federal defender organizations (63 federal public defender organizations and 18 community defender organizations) served 91 of the 94 federal judicial districts.

A total of 226,710 representations by counsel under the CJA were opened, an increase of 10 percent. Eighty-four percent of all federal judicial districts served by federal defender organizations (FDOs) and panel attorneys had larger caseloads this fiscal year compared to 2014. FDOs in many of these districts reported that they had large numbers of “Drugs Minus Two” cases affected by the retroactive application of the United States Sentencing Commission’s Amendment 728, which adjusted by two levels the Drug Quantity Table used for sentencing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). The largest percentage increases caused by this amendment occurred in the Middle District of Florida (up 123 percent), the Eastern District of Texas (up 107 percent), the Central District of Illinois (up 102 percent), and the District of Puerto Rico (up 91 percent). The largest percentage decrease was in the District of Arizona (down 21 percent) and was caused by a significant reduction there in immigration cases.

Representations closed by the 81 federal public and community defender organizations (including representations in criminal matters, appeals, and habeas corpus proceedings) grew 4 percent from the previous year to 127,508. FDOs in many districts processed large numbers of Drugs Minus Two resentencing cases; nationwide, 20,234 of these cases were closed in 2015. Excluding the Drugs Minus Two cases, FDOs processed 13 percent fewer cases this year compared to 2014. Representations closed by appointed panel attorneys fell 10 percent from 2014 to 79,006. The number of private attorneys paid through the CJA panel attorney payment system was 8,882.

For a summary of federal defender appointments under the CJA for the past five years, see Table S-21. For information on representations for each federal public and community defender organization, see Table K-1.