How are the CASA participants selected?
CASA team members – representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), the Federal Public Defenders Office (FDO) and the U.S. Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) – for each court meet regularly to review and discuss applications. While all team members have a right to accept or reject a prospective applicant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office makes the final decision regarding admission and track designation. If rejected by the CASA USAO representatives, the only recourse is a request for reconsideration with the USAO Criminal Chief.
In some cases (usually limited to applications in Los Angeles), the USAO CASA representatives may request an interview with the applicant and defense counsel before the CASA team. It is strongly suggested that defense counsel contact the FDO representative before meeting with the CASA review team. In other cases, however, the USAO will unilaterally determine that a prospective applicant is not qualified due to the nature of the alleged offense, nature and extent of criminal record, the lack of a “casual connection” between the client’s underlying issues and the alleged offense, and/or the apparent lack of a “treatable issue” within the CASA Program. It is common practice of the USAO to advise defense counsel of any prospective action (including rejection without an interview), inviting additional argument and/or documents where available before making a final determination.
Once an applicant is deemed acceptable by the CASA Team, a referral is made to the originally assigned District Judge requesting a transfer of that case to the calendar of the designated CASA District Judge. Both judges must first approve the transfer before starting the CASA Program.