Defender Services - Annual Report 2011
The Administrative Office supports federal defender organization attorneys and staff and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel attorneys by offering training and professional resources.
Improving Criminal Justice Act Voucher Processing
A project team is working to replace paper-based submission, processing, and payment of CJA panel attorney and expert services vouchers with an automated process that will reduce the workload of service providers and Judiciary staff. Design, development, and implementation of the Electronic CJA Voucher Processing System (eCJA VPS) is underway with contract assistance secured during fiscal year 2011. The application will provide easy access to and retrieval of supporting documents. The development process being employed for eCJA VPS allows for certain features to be added after the initial system release, which will expedite the implementation system scheduled for calendar year 2013.
Litigation Support for Federal Defenders and CJA Panel Attorneys
The Defender Services Committee has approved five strategies to meet appointed counsels' growing litigation support needs more effectively and efficiently. One key component is the purchase of an evidence review platform—one or more software applications that will permit the capture, organization, analysis, and review of case-related electronic data. A new national software license will reduce the costs of multiple acquisitions for individual cases, simplify software training for defense teams, and increase productivity. A second strategy has been implemented with the award of contracts for coordinating discovery attorneys who are available to assist CJA panel attorneys in managing large volumes of discovery.
CJA Circuit Case-Budgeting Attorneys
In September 2005, the Judicial Conference approved a cost-containment pilot project to provide judges with objective case-budgeting advice to enhance their oversight of high-cost CJA panel attorney representations. For more than three years, the pilot funded an attorney position in the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits to support the case-budgeting process for CJA panel attorney representations in capital cases and non-capital mega-cases. The FJC conducted a study of the pilot project and prepared a report in December 2010, the Circuit CJA Case-Budgeting Attorney Pilot Project Evaluation. The report found that the pilot met the goal of containing costs, while achieving a high-quality defense, by enhancing management of and accountability over high-cost cases. The FJC concluded that the pilot project savings outweighed its costs.
In March 2011, the Judicial Conference approved the use of circuit CJA case-budgeting attorney positions and authorized continued funding for the three pilot attorneys and incremental expansion in the number of positions.