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Criminal Justice Act — Judicial Business 2018

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 (64 federal public defender organizations and 17 community defender organizations) served 91 of the 94 federal judicial districts.

A total of 232,115 representations by counsel under the CJA were opened, an increase of 25 percent. Fifty-six percent of all federal judicial districts had higher caseloads. The overall growth in cases opened stemmed mainly from a 61 percent surge in representations in the five southwestern border districts. The largest percentage increases in that region occurred in the Southern District of Texas (up 112 percent) and the District of New Mexico (up 77 percent) and mainly involved illegal immigration cases. The largest percentage decrease was in the District of Puerto Rico (down 30 percent), which had reported a 53 percent jump in representations the previous year because of “Drugs Minus Two” cases affected by the retroactive application of Amendment 728, which adjusted by two levels the Drug Quantity Table used for sentencing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c).

Representations closed by the 81 federal public and community defender organizations (including representations in criminal matters, appeals, and habeas corpus proceedings) climbed 23 percent from the previous year to 156,205. This increase was mostly due to the growth in illegal immigration cases in the five southwestern border districts. Representations closed by appointed panel attorneys rose 16 percent to 83,957. The number of private attorneys paid through the CJA panel attorney payment system was 8,132.

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.