Office of the Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Texas
The United States Supreme Court established an indigent defendant's right to legal counsel in Federal Courts in 1938. Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458 (1938). To satisfy the requirement, federal District Judges appointed lawyers for indigent defendants, without pay or even reimbursement for expenses. The appointed lawyers were often inexperienced in criminal law. The Criminal Justice Act of 1964 (CJA) was enacted to provide payment for appointed lawyers and to create a core of full-time Federal Public Defenders, with skills equal to those of federal prosecutors. In response to the Criminal Justice Act, the federal judiciary created the Federal Defender Services program. Approximately 85 percent of all criminal cases prosecuted in federal courts require appointed legal counsel. The Defender Services Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States provides overall policy direction and guidance of the program, and the Defender Services Division provides administrative and program support.
Geographical Information about the Eastern District of Texas
The Eastern District of Texas contains 43 counties and covers in excess of 50,000 square miles. There are seven divisions within the district. There are a total of nine District Judges and six Magistrate Judges. The Federal Public Defender's Office has fully staffed operations in Beaumont, Sherman, Frisco, and Tyler, Texas. Division cities within the Eastern District of Texas are Beaumont, Lufkin, Marshall, Paris, Sherman, Texarkana, and Tyler. The Eastern District also has a courthouse in Plano Texas as a place to hold court for the Sherman Division.
Drugs Minus Two Amendment Information
In April of 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved a two-level, across-the-board reduction in the drug guidelines known as the Drugs Minus Two Amendment. On July 18, 2014, the Commission voted to apply the reduced guidelines retroactively. The amendments took effect on November 1, 2014.
Our office is coordinating with the courts, probation office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Texas to determine which drug defendants are eligible for the reduction in sentence. If your case is granted the reduction, it will not be effective until November 1, 2015. No one will be released prior to November 1, 2015.
There are approximately 2500 defendants in Texas Eastern who may qualify for this reduction, so it will take some time to review every case that may be eligible. During this time, please have patience with the process. All cases involving a drug sentence will be reviewed and cross-checked for eligibility for a reduction in sentence, and we expect court orders to be issued in all drug cases regarding eligibility for the reduction in sentence. cases will be reviewed in order of projected new release date. We are currently working on filing motions for the 2018 release dates. Again, please be patient as the Court conducts this process.
Electronic CJA Voucher Processing System
Texas Eastern recently accepted an invitation to participate in the pilot testing of the new Electronic CJA Voucher Processing System (eCJA VPS) currently under development (see attached September 12, 2011 memo and article from The Third Branch.) This application will replace the current paper-based process with a paperless system. It is expected to expedite voucher submission, review and payments, and reduce errors. Our participation in the pilot will begin during the summer of 2012, The new system likely will be tested on a select group of panel attorneys.
CJA RATES, CASE MAXIMUMS AND REMINDERS
Memo detailing hourly rate, case maximums, and reminders for CJA panel attorneys. Click Here
Padilla v. Kentucky – Supreme Court case on right to counsel
On March 31, 2010, the United Supreme Court issued its Sixth Amendment right to counsel decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 599 U.S. __ (2010). The Court held that, in light of the unique severity of deportation and the reality that immigration consequences of criminal convictions are inextricably linked to the criminal proceedings, the Sixth Amendment requires defense counsel to provide affirmative, competent advice to a noncitizen defendant regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea, and, absent such advice, a noncitizen may raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Click on the links to review a discussion of Padilla and it’s implications for defense counsel, and a practice guide.
Recent Developments in Federal Search & Seizure Law
Selected Guideline Decisions for the Fifth Circuit - PDF Adobe Reader required
Selected Guideline Decisions from the Supreme Court - PDF Adobe Reader required
Practice Tips for Post-Booker Cases - PDF Adobe Reader required
An Introduction to Federal Sentencing 9th Ed. - PDF Adobe Reader required
Information for Federal Criminal Defendants - PDF Adobe Reader required
The Training Branch of the Office of Defender Services will present several workshops during the FY 2011. The following link will direct you to the www.fd.org training programs web page, http://www.fd.org/odstb_TRAINING.htm#panel. Financial assistance is available to qualified individuals. Please also note that further information, registration forms and financial assistance applications for training workshops can be found on www.fd.org.
VENDOR and SERVICE PROVIDER INFORMATION
Please review the Vendor and Service Provider Information page for information and requirements on providing services or products to the Eastern District of Texas.
FDO & PANEL ATTORNEY PROGRAMS
SENTENCING ADVOCACY WORKSHOP
The Office of the Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of Texas, operates under authority of the Criminal Justice Act of 1964 (CJA), 18 U.S.C. § 3006A. It provides defense services in federal criminal cases and other covered matters to individuals who are financially unable to obtain adequate representation. A person’s eligibility for defender services is determined by the federal court. Defender organization attorneys may not engage in the private practice of law.
Last updated on -March 2014