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Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Federal Defenders

The Administrative Office also assists and oversees the offices of federal public defenders. Under the Criminal Justice Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 3006A [1964]), the federal district courts are required to appoint counsel to criminal defendants who are unable to afford adequate representation. The act also authorizes the district courts to establish federal public defender and federal community defender organizations. This can be done in districts where at least two hundred persons annually require the appointment of counsel. Two adjacent districts may be combined to reach this total.

Each defender organization submits to the director of the Administrative Office an ANNUAL REPORT of its activities along with a proposed budget. Because they rely on grants and not regular funding, community defender organizations submit grant proposals to the Administrative Office for the coming year. The director then submits the proposed budgets and grants to the Judicial Conference of the United States for approval. After budgets are determined, the director pays the defender organizations. The director also compensates private counsel appointed to defend individuals charged in federal court.

In wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Administrative Office relied on its newly created Office of Emergency Preparedness. This office worked with courts around the United States to develop crisis response plans to deal with emergency evacuations, relocations, and the continuation of court business. The office also arranged for the testing of courthouses for hazardous materials.

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