Federal Indigent Defense Funding

Report - Federal Indigent Defense 2015: The Independence Imperative

Indigent Defense 2015 Report In the wake of the severe cuts to the provision of indigent defense services during sequestration in 2013, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) created a Federal Indigent Defense Task Force to examine the federal indigent defense system. The mission included an assessment of the level of independence afforded to the Defender Services Office and consideration of whether reforms are necessary to ensure adherence to the ABA’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System. After extensive research and more than 130 interviews with key stakeholders, the Task Force identified several significant, persistent deficiencies in the system. This report explores those concerns and offers seven recommendations to assure a robust federal indigent defense system.

Read the Report (PDF) | Project Overview 

Executive Director Champion Column - August 2015

Inside NACDL: A Fundamental Flaw in the Federal Indigent Defense System: Lack of Independence From Judicial Control, The Champion Magazine, by Norman L. Reimer, August 2015. 

The passage of time and an infusion of funding can mask even the most serious problems. And so it is with the federal indigent defense system. For many, the traumatic events of 2013, which subjected the federal indigent defense system to grave risk, have receded into memory. It is already difficult to recall the frenetic efforts to preserve the federal indigent defense infrastructure that were triggered by the twin perils posed by judicial demotion of the defender function and the dire consequences of the executive and legislative suicide mission known as sequestration. The federal budget agreement in 2014 and the concomitant restoration of funding for federal indigent defense calmed the tempest, with the attention of most criminal justice advocates diverted to other pressing issues. But for NACDL, which had established a Task Force on Federal Indigent Defense in response to the crisis, the work continued. The result of that effort is a comprehensive report on the state of federal indigent defense: Federal Indigent Defense 2015: The Independence Imperative.1 

Read More. 

Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Criminal Justice Act

As explained in the CJA Study flyer, “[a]ppointed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., the Ad hoc Committee will conduct a comprehensive and impartial review of the Criminal Justice Act program, which secures the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel for federal criminal defendants.”

Submit public comments at CJAStudy@ao.uscourts.gov.

NACDL President E.G. Morris testified before the Committee on November 17, 2015. Click here for the written testimony.

Tentative schedule for public hearings: 



Nov. 16-17, 2015 Santa Fe, NM
Jan. 11-12, 2016 Miami, FL
Feb. 3-4, 2016 Portland, OR
Feb. 18-19, 2016 Birmingham, AL
March 2-3, 2016 San Francisco, CA
April 11-12, 2016 Philadelphia, PA
May 16-17, 2016 Minneapolis, MN

For more information, contact Robin M. Maher, robin_maher@ao.uscourts.gov, 202-502-3044.

Anyone interested in in receiving an invitation to present oral testimony should contact Arin Brenner at arin_brenner@ao.uscourts.gov or (202) 502-1413. Anyone may sit in the audience to listen without registering.

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