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Supporting Defender Services

Meeting the Demands of Electronic Discovery

The Committee on Defender Services has approved several strategies to meet the growing litigation support needs of Criminal Justice Act practitioners. In the past year, substantial progress was made on three interrelated strategies: (1) the installation of and training on an evidence review platform to be used by federal defender staff and CJA panel attorneys to input, process, organize, manage, search and analyze large volumes of electronic discovery in federal CJA cases; (2) the distribution of and training on the "Recommendations for Electronically Stored Information (ESI) Discovery Production in Federal Criminal Cases," an agreement with DOJ on national protocols for the production of ESI in federal criminal cases; and (3) the implementation of three contracts for coordinating discovery attorneys (CDAs), who are assisting panel attorneys and federal defender staff with the efficient management of large volumes of discovery in federal CJA cases.

New Defender Case Management System Debuts

All 80 federal defender organizations in districts across the country have begun 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. defenderData has been adapted exclusively for federal defenders and replaces a more than 15-year-old decentralized legacy system. The new system is user-friendly, able to generate reports on cases received, closed, or pending, and on any variation of case-related data, including assignments by attorney, time spent by case or offense, or other variables monitored by the federal defender organization.

Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Voucher Processing Improved

The development of the Electronic CJA Voucher Processing System (eCJA VPS) is nearing completion. The project's goal is to give the courts a faster, more responsive and efficient automated system for the processing and payment of CJA panel attorney and expert service claims. Assisting in the effort are the AO's eCJA VPS Working Group of 23 court managers and staff, and the project's liaison judges from several Judicial Conference Committees. The application also will expedite access to and retrieval of supporting documents, make it easier to complete vouchers and enhance financial stewardship. Functional testing of the eCJA VPS began in the first quarter of FY 2013. Pilot testing in selected courts is scheduled for the second quarter of FY 2013. National implementation will take place in 2013.