For all the former JAs now serving as Federal PDs (including some of our past contributors) AG Holder’s WaPo Op-Ed here:

[D]raconian cuts have forced layoffs, furloughs (averaging 15 days per staff member) and personnel reductions through attrition. Across the country, these cuts threaten the integrity of our criminal justice system and impede the ability of our dedicated professionals to ensure due process, provide fair outcomes and guarantee the constitutionally protected rights of every criminal defendant.

Will the sequester have similar effects on court martial representation if military JA end strength is dropped?

16 Responses to “AG Op-Ed on Funding Federal Public Defenders”

  1. AFJAGCAPT says:

    @No Man
    For the AF, my guess would be that such drops will not have that impact, at least not in a significant way. What they would likely do is continue to push lower level offenses (e.g. the drug use/buddy distro that a lot of young TC’s, at least in the AF, cut their teeth on) to be handled via NJP or LOR/Admin Sep. We have pretty much gotten there with marijuana, but there are still plenty of cocaine, ecstacy etc use cases going to SPCMs.
    Perhaps we will also look at legal assistance going to AD (or even deployment-related) only.

  2. Just Sayin' says:

    Proposal: 
    MILJUS becomes income based, like the federal defenders.  An O6 can afford a lawyer.
    LA: Active duty, complete coverage.  Eliminate LA for family law where the party opponent is the servicemember.  Income based services for retirees and dependents.  A retired Admiral does not need some O2 who has been a lawyer for 5 minutes doing his complex will.  He can afford an attorney with more experience in trusts and estates, and frankly, should.

  3. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    Reducing LA for anyone, retirees included, will never happen.  The AF has been pushing for MORE LA, not less.
    I think the only thing that could plausibly happen is a reduction in tax services for everywhere except overseas locations.  H&R Block tends to set up shop on most bases, and our target audience–the young enlisted–tend to go there even though bases offices are free.  Believe me, when I ran the tax office, I tried to convince them not to give H&R a bite at their refund.  They prefer the faster service.

  4. Saint Michael says:

    When the AG trots out Gideon v. Wainwright, you know his article is all about political posturing.
    Back to the point, the Air Force will cut legal assistance and jettison tax services, especially for retirees, long before it cuts the defense community.

  5. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    Hasan verdict is in: guilty on (looks like) all counts.  http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/justice/nidal-hasan-court-martial-friday/index.html
    I was wondering why it took so long.  At a glance, it looks like they had questions about a specific attempted murder count.  As much as I was expecting a quick verdict, it’s good to see that the panel exercised some deliberation.

  6. Butters says:

    I agree with statements that “other” legal services would be scaled back, certain offenses would be pushed down to the NJP/Admin Sep level, and retiree legal access would be limited first.
    If things really got bad, I think that the services might leverage more reservists and maybe even hire contract civilian lawyers. I imagine that former JAGs would be the ideal candidates for these positions. Look at the military hospitals using contracted civilian PA’s and doctors.
    I am not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV), but my understanding is that most military cases are not contested and this might factor in to the calculus as well. 

  7. paleo says:

    There is a serious disconnect here. The comments above have attempted to treat this subject seriously. The AG and political leaders…not so much. 
     

  8. Some Army Guy says:

    Why would it?
     
    The Army is in the midst of a personnel cut of ~14%.
     
    Assuming a commensurate cut in JAs, and using a very simplistic analysis, there should be a ~14% cut in Article 15s and courts-martial.  Even if JA end-strength is cut by 14% (which is doubtful, it will probably be less than overall Army end-strength reductions), services available should remain the same.
     
    And if you want to throw some critical thinking into the analysis, a smaller Army would probably be more selective both in retention and recruiting, military justice work would be reduced even more than overall end-strength.
     
    So no, if the population our defense counsel serve is reduced, then sequester shouldn’t affect it negatively at all.

  9. AF Capt says:

    Ultimately, it will depend on the TJAG and what he’s looking at. That said, I don’t see the JAGC getting cut as bad as the rest of the FPD. Reason 1: They just mandated a whole new practice of law for the JAGC and will justify continued manning in order to staff the SVC posts. Reason 2: They’re not going to cut away at the prosecutors, which means the base legal office. Reason 3: HHQ hates getting cuts in their own manning, and has the incentive to protect that.
    That said, some things may get cut. My bet would be the tax program and accessions and/or reserve slots. The number of people using the tax program has dropped for the last several years for the simple reason that most servicemembers can do their taxes online for free, and retirees are increasingly comfortable with technology. That right there will eliminate a lot of civilian overhires. As to accessions and/or reserve slots, as we deploy less JAGs there is less of a need for backfill. Similarly, as the legal job market continues to tank we’ll see the attrition rate drop, keeping more people in and filling the active duty roles.

  10. paleo says:

    Some Army Guy,
    Your critical thinking is too kind. You’re ignoring the entire process leading to a smaller military. 
    Justice is somewhat like an irreversible chemical reaction, A + B -> C
    A is your command and law enforcement system, B is your caseload, C is adjudication. The justice system is the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction. As you pour additional B into solution, as DoD is currently doing thanks to downsizing, the enzyme levels eventually become insufficient. Since the solution is filtered for C at fixed and unyielding time intervals, incomplete reactions get harvested, even though the enzyme has not spent enough time to properly catalyze the reaction. Yet, your filtering separates the enzyme. Incomplete C is injustice. When you account for known impurities in A, your collection of C gets tainted very quickly. 
    To add to Saint Michael’s comments, see the following: http://www.justice.gov/oig/testimony/t1304.pdf  http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/plus/a1143.pdf
    DOJ has been wasting hundreds of millions. $120 million over two years for conferences with items such as lunch with meatballs that cost $5 each…8-oz cup of coffee for over $8…”Spending on conferences represents another cost category that we believe the Department should scrutinize. Although the Department has reported reducing these expenditures by $7 million in the last year and $33 million in total over the last two years, it nevertheless reported spending over $58 million on conferences in FY 2012, and that number excludes spending on conferences that cost less than $20,000 and conferences that were not predominantly for DOJ attendees. We believe that the current budgetary environment demands that the Department search for adequate alternatives to conferences, such as video conferencing, and that it strongly consider restricting its conference spending even further. ”
    I wonder how many depositions, evidence examinations, expert testimonies and other items could be paid for with an extra $50 million; or how many furloughs could be avoided.

  11. stewie says:

    We are all assuming that we won’t just do the following:
     
    1. All SVC duties go to LA attys, thus meaning that something has to give
    2. That something ends up being not taxes or retirement but all of the actions that trial defense could do, but are currently done by LA
    3. Trial defense attorneys are then overwhelmed doing low priority but time-consuming actions in addition to their more traditional roles
     

  12. AF Capt says:

    This may be a service dependent thing, but in the AF the LA program doesn’t do anything in which the AF is the opposing party… that all goes to the ADC.  I take it other services are different?

  13. stewie says:

    The Army LA folks often/usually do things like GOMOR rebuttals for example.  They can but much less often do things like admin reduction boards.

  14. Lieber says:

    I cannot fathom what our justification is for the tax centers.  We offer free tax software through military onesource (and there are other free online options) and our junior service-members do not have complex tax scenarios anyway.
    Our LA folks tend to do a pretty crappy job on GOMOR rebuttals (primarily cause no one trains them on it in OBC or after) and it’d definitely be interesting for commands if TDS started doing robust rebuttals….and since a GOMOR is now an automatic sep board referral (unofficially), it might be time for the recipients to start getting real counsel.

  15. dyskolos says:

    Lieber said: “I cannot fathom what our justification is for the tax centers.”
    If memory serves, it was because in the 1980’s H&R Block and other tax preparers wanted to come on installations through AAFES and charge our young enlisted for the service. The AF TJAG said we can provide the service for free.  The military services linked up with VITA and the rest is history.
     

  16. Matt says:

    Easy solution.  Give all sex assault and child pornography cases to local and federal civilians to prosecute if they have jurisdiction.  This makes congress happy (until they discover that civilians won’t touch most of the cases that we prosecute) and reduces TDS workload at the same time.  I used to be really opposed to the idea, but the more I have thought about it the more in favor I’m becoming.