Procedures for the CJA Appellate Panel for the Central District of California (Revised December 2016)

Since 1996, the Panel has been administered by the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California (FPD-CDCA), by delegation from the Ninth Circuit. Panel members receive appointments under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A to handle direct criminal appeals and civil appeals from denial of relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254 and 2255 in cases arising out of the Central District and elsewhere in the Ninth Circuit. Panel members are expected to have significant federal criminal appellate experience and a commitment to the representation of indigent defendants and petitioners. Terms on Panel for the Central District are renewable at the discretion of the Federal Public Defender (“FPD”), who reviews the applicant’s work, and also considers and solicits views from a number of institutional actors in this Circuit.

The procedures, standards, and policies outlined in this document were adopted to maximize the quality of representation for indigent defendants represented by CJA Appellate Panel (“Panel”) attorneys in Ninth Circuit appeals originating in the Central District of California. See generally Vera Institute of Justice, Good Practices for Panel Attorney Programs in the U.S. Courts of Appeals (2006) (AO-funded report) (setting out expected standards of appellate practice by panel attorneys, and recommending rigorous but flexible panel selection and appointments process).

Delegation of Authority

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has delegated authority to manage the appellate panel, and to assign panel appointments to a designee, in each district within the Circuit. In the Central District of California, the delegation has been made to the FPD; the program is currently administered by Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender Christopher Dybwad.

When it is determined that additional attorneys are needed to appropriately staff the Panel, the FPD-CDCA will notify current members of both the trial and appellate panels, along with any others who have expressed interest in membership, and invite them to submit an application.

Selection. To apply, candidates who are not current Panel members must complete an application, submit two representative writing samples, and provide names of two or more references who are familiar with the applicant’s work, professional reputation commitment to indigent defense, and time management skills. Applications are accepted annually during the month of December. Applicants must be members in good standing of the State Bar of California, have their office within the state of California, and be abletion, Reappointment, and Removal of Panel Members to travel to any of the district courts or circuit courts when required. Preference is givento applicants practicing in the Central District of California.

A committee of experienced appellate practitioners will review applications, contact references, and decide which applicants will be selected for addition to the Panel. Members are added to the Panel for a term of three years, on the condition that they attend an initial mandatory orientation session and the annual mandatory training seminar.

Reappointment. Approximately two months before a term expires, Panel members will receive a letter asking whether they want to be considered for another 3 year term. Each Panel member is asked to complete an abbreviated application and submit a copy of his or her most recently filed non-Anders opening brief.

Terms are renewable at the discretion of the FPD, whose chief goal in reviewing all applications will be to maximize the quality of the Panel. As part of this review, the FPD solicits and considers the views of Ninth Circuit judges, the Appellate Chief of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Appellate Commissioner, and the Supervisor of the Writs
and Appeals Section of the FPD-CDCA. Factors considered include: the quality of the Panel attorney’s work; the attorney’s performance over the past three years; complaints about the attorney by clients, other counsel, or the Circuit; sanctions threatened or imposed on the attorney; any timeliness issues; and the quality of other applications received.

Standards of performance. Panel members are expected to conform to applicable standards for the provision of services to indigent criminal defendants and petitioners. These standards include the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Defense Function (3d ed. 1993), ABA Formal Opinion 10-456 (2010), and the procedural requirements outlined in Bittaker v. Woodford, 331 F.3d 715 (9th Cir. 2003).

Removal. An attorney may be removed from the Panel at the discretion of the FPD. The attorney will be advised of the proposed removal, and be offered an opportunity to respond to the reasons for the proposed removal. The selection committee will consider all available options, including a temporary suspension from the Panel. Attorneys
removed from the Panel are free to apply anew during any subsequent application period.

Occasionally, a Panel attorney may be sanctioned by the Appellate Commissioner, who may remove the attorney’s eligibility to serve as CJA counsel on appointed matters. Such will also result in that attorney’s automatic and unappealable removal from the Panel. Upon reinstatement of the attorney’s eligibility by the Commissioner, the attorney will be free to apply anew in any subsequent application period.

For detailed requirements, please review the Appellate Panel Procedures on the United States District Court, Central District of California’s website.