Welcome to the website of the Federal Community Defender of the Eastern District of Michigan. We are a community defender organization providing court-appointed representation to indigent defendants charged with federal crimes in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. We have two locations: a main office in Detroit and a branch office in Flint, Michigan. We handle case assignments in the Detroit, Ann Arbor, Port Huron, Flint and Bay City, Michigan, U.S. District Courts.
The excellence of the work in the Federal Community Defender was recognized in April 2000, when the Detroit Chapter of the Federal Bar Association bestowed the cherished Leonard Gilman Award to all past and present FDO employees. The Gilman Award is given annually to an outstanding practitioner of criminal law who exemplifies a legacy of justice, excellence, professionalism, and a commitment to public service.
The mission of the Federal Community Defender is to provide quality representation to indigent defendants charged with federal crimes in the U.S. Courts; to foster and promote the high standards and ideals engendered by the Bill of Rights and the Criminal Justice Act; and to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are afforded to all on a fair and equal basis.
The Federal Community Defender is the administrator of the CJA Panel Attorney Program for the Eastern District of Michigan. The CJA Panel consists of highly experienced private attorneys who have been screened and approved by the U.S. District Court to handled court-appointed cases. If more than one person is charged or being investigated in a particular case, the Federal Community Defender is only allowed to represent one case. The remaining cases are assigned to private attorneys on the CJA Panel.
This website is primarily intended to provide litigation support for staff attorneys of the FDO, CJA Panel Attorneys, and other attorneys representing clients in the federal courts. We suggest you visit the Links page for links to several excellent web sites focusing on defense in the U.S. District Courts.
Types of Cases Handled
The Federal Community Defender provides criminal defense representation in federal court for felony, misdemeanor, juvenile, appellate and post-conviction matters. Representation is provided from the initial court appearance through the entire appellate process, which includes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. The office is not permitted to provide legal representation without an Order of Appointment from the U.S. District Court. No FDO attorney is permitted to engage in the private practice of law.
How To Request Counsel
To request court-appointed counsel, a person must complete and submit a Financial Affidavit. This is usually done at the initial court appearance, the first time a person appears before a magistrate judge or district court judge for a federal court proceeding. The Financial Affidavit requests disclosure of certain financial information to aid the court in determining eligibility for court appointed counsel. If approved, the Court will enter an Order appointing the Federal Community Defender to provide legal representation.
The Federal Community Defender is appointed to represent all Criminal Justice Act (CJA) cases in the U.S. District Courts in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Bay City, and Port Huron, Michigan. If you have been advised by any federal law enforcement official by telephone or letter to seek the representation of counsel prior to any formal charges or court appearance, please contact the Pretrial Services Agency, located in Room 342 of the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226. Telephone: (313) 234-5300. Have on hand any letters, paperwork, or business cards from any federal law enforcement official or agency regarding any federal investigation. Pretrial Services will provide you with a Financial Affidavit to fill out. Once completed, the Financial Affidavit will be forward to the presiding magistrate judge to determine eligibility for court-appointed counsel. You may also contact the Federal Community Defender at (313) 967-5542 for assistance and to obtain a Financial Affidavit. Once the Court approves the Financial Affidavit and enters an Order appointing the Federal Community Defender, the matter will be assigned to an attorney.
Representation shall be provided for any financially eligible person who falls under the criteria listed in 18 U.S.C. §§3006A(a)(1), and includes persons charged with a felony or a Class A misdemeanor. Eligibility is determined by a Federal Magistrate Judge or District Court Judge.
Multiple Defendant Cases
If more than one person is charged or being investigated in a particular case, the Federal Community Defender is only allowed to represent one case. The remaining cases are assigned to private attorneys on the CJA Panel Attorney Program for the Eastern District of Michigan. The Federal Community Defender administers the CJA Panel Attorney Program, which is a panel of private, qualified federal criminal law practitioners approved by the U.S. District Court to handle court-appointed cases.
Once the Federal Community Defender is appointed, you may call the office within 24 hours at (313) 967- 5542 to find out the name of the attorney assigned to a case. The attorney who provides assistance at the initial court appearance may not be the attorney assigned to the case. The Federal Community Defender may also assign the case to a private attorney on the CJA Panel Attorney Program.
The office hours of Federal Community Defender are 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday.