Pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act (18 U.S.C. § 3006A), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has adopted a plan for the representation of any person otherwise financially unable to obtain adequate representation. This is a secured site designed to assist CJA Panel Attorneys in the Eastern District of Michigan in the representation of indigent defendants in the U.S. District Court. All criminal defense attorneys are welcome to browse the site to assist them in providing representation to indigent clients. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments regarding this site, please contact the Website Administrator @ gregory_marshall @fd.org.
Admission to the Panel
Attorneys seeking admission to the CJA Panel Attorney Program for the Eastern District of Michigan must complete an application. Click here to download a CJA Panel Attorney Application. The completed application should be forwarded to the Federal Community Defender, 613 Abbott Street, Suite 500, Detroit, Michigan 48226, Attn: CJA Panel.
Applicants should have at least three (3) years of requisite trial experience (State or Federal), knowledge of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, familiarity with Federal Court Rules and Regulations, as well as the requisite experience and skills to immediately undertake the representation of defendants in federal court proceedings. Attorneys must also be a member of good standing of the State Bar of Michigan and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at the time of the application.
Applications are screened in the spring of each year by the Panel Selection Committee, a panel of experienced federal court practitioners nominated by various bar associations in the Eastern District of Michigan. The Committee's recommendations for admission are forwarded to the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for final approval. Admission to the Panel is contingent upon the number of vacancies and may not be open for new members each year. All current CJA members must reapply for readmission to the Panel every three years. Attorneys who may not have enough experience to qualify for admission to the CJA Panel are encouraged to participate in the Federal Bar Association's Mentoring Program, where participants are allowed to shadow a mentor during a case from start to finish, including during motion hearings, plea hearings, trials and sentencing. Mentors are selected from the Eastern District Federal Bar Association's mentoring list of experienced federal criminal practitioners.
The CJA Panel Attorney Program for the Eastern District of Michigan is an equal opportunity program in all facets of its activities and services, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, protected disability, height, weight, martial status, sexual orientation, or any other protected status or characteristic.
Active Status on the Panel
To remain an active member on the CJA panel and continue to receive case assignments, each member is asked to accept a minimum of two CJA cases per year. Members who do not accept a minimum of two cases per year are placed on inactive status and removed from the roster of new case assignments. Members who are placed on inactive status must contact the Federal Community Defender to request reinstatement to active status.
Removal From the CJA Panel
All panel members serve at the pleasure of the U.S. District Court. A panel member whose license is revoked or suspended by the State Bar of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board for more than 119 days shall be removed automatically from the CJA Panel. In the event an attorney is readmitted to practice in the U.S. District Court and reinstated as a member in good standing in the State Bar of Michigan, an attorney who desires readmission to the CJA Panel shall proceed as on original application. Any member whose license is suspended for 119 days or less, or for any other reason is no longer a member in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan, shall be suspended automatically from active status. Upon reinstatement, a suspended attorney shall return to active status through the Panel Selection Committee. In both instances, the Panel Selection Committee makes a recommendation to the U.S. District Court for discussion and decision. In addition, the U.S. District Court may provisionally suspend an attorney from membership on the CJA Panel for reasons other than bar membership status, including, but not limited to, formal accusation of a crime, conviction of crime not resulting in action by the Attorney Discipline Board, indications of lack of professional competence or lack of adherence to ethical standards, and indications of mental or emotion instability affecting professional responsibilities.
As a prerequisite to remaining an active participant on the CJA panel, all members must attend the annual CJA Panel Attorney Seminar sponsored by the Federal Community Defender. Each year, guest speakers are invited to speak on various topics of interest to federal court practitioners and is designed to assist panel members by providing them with recent, up-to-date case law and strategies. The seminar is usually held in the fall of each year via e-mail. Other seminars and workshops are also available to CJA panel attorneys through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Defender Services Training Branch. To obtain information regarding dates and locations of upcoming CJA seminars, please click here for link to Defender Services Training Branch website.
Representation of CJA Defendants
The panel member, and not an associate or another member of the firm, must represent the client at all federal court proceedings. Attorneys appointed to a case must continue to serve until representation is terminated by court order. Acceptance of a criminal assignment means that representation continues through the entire appellate process, including the Petition for Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, if the client so desires and there is a meritorious issue.
Withdrawing from CJA Cases
Once an appearance is filed and/or a CJA voucher issues for a new case, appointed counsel must file a motion to withdraw to be relieved as counsel. The motion must be served upon the client. When the motion is granted, the Federal Community Defender is reappointed and the case assigned to new counsel. The motion should be filed with the district court judge or magistrate judge who is presiding over the case. Until the court grants the motion, appointed counsel remains the attorney-of-record, and the Federal Community Defender has no authority to assign new counsel. If the case is at the appellate stage, and a Notice of Appeal has been filed, a motion to withdraw must be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Court of Appeals will appoint new counsel from their list of CJA attorneys.
Substitution of Counsel in CJA Cases
If a CJA attorney is substituted for another CJA attorney previously appointed in the same case, the total compensation which may be paid to both attorneys shall not exceed the statutory maximum for one defendant, unless the case involves extended or complex representation. In such cases, vouchers for attorney's services shall not be approved by a judicial officer until the conclusion of the trial so that the judicial officer may make such apportionment between the attorneys as may be just.