Wednesday, December 28, 2016
David Patton (Federal Defenders of New York) has posted The Structure of Federal Public Defense: A Call for Independence (Cornell Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Independence is a foundational requirement for any good system of public criminal defense. The Constitution guarantees anyone charged with a crime the right to a defense attorney regardless of ability to pay, and that attorney has the ethical obligation to provide a zealous defense, free from any conflicting outside influence. And yet the system of federal public defense is funded, managed, and supervised by the very judges in front of whom defenders must vigorously defend their clients. The arrangement creates serious constitutional, ethical, and policy problems. This Article proposes a solution: an independent federal defense agency. The agency proposed, the Center for Federal Public Defense (CFPD), would administer federal defenders’ offices, manage the system of appointed private attorneys, and seek funding from Congress for indigent defense services.
The Article places the discussion of the proposed organization in the context of other independent agencies that do not fit neatly into a single branch of government, sometimes described as “boundary organizations.”