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.
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
President Obama Signs Historic Crack Reform Law
President Obama recently signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, enacting sweeping reforms to federal crack cocaine laws, reducing sentences for crack cocaine offenses. The 100 to 1 sentencing ratio has been reduced to 18 to 1. Twenty-eight grams of crack cocaine will now trigger a five-year prison sentence and 280 grams of crack will trigger a ten-year sentence. The five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine has also been eliminated. These reforms are not retroactive.
For more details on the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, including the issue of retroactivity, clink on the links:
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.
PANEL ATTORNEY PROGRAMS
TRIAL SKILLS ACADEMY
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 -October 2010