The Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”) provides for the appointment of counsel in criminal cases to persons who are financially unable to obtain adequate representation. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a). In the Southern District of Texas, in cases where the Federal Public Defender has not been appointed to represent a defendant who is entitled to the assistance of appointed counsel, individual defense attorneys are chosen from a federal panel. The Federal Public Defender is charged with assuring that members of the CJA panel are familiar with federal criminal practice.
The Material Witness Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3144, authorizes the detention of any person alleged to have testimony that is material to a criminal proceeding. The Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”) provides for the appointment of counsel to material witnesses in custody who are financially unable to obtain adequate representation. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a).
Although hundreds of material witnesses are ordered detained by courts in the Southern District of Texas each year, practices vary by division and court-appointed lawyers report receiving little or no guidance as to how best to represent their clients. In practice, zealous material-witness attorneys must confront structural and practical resistance, balance stakeholder needs, and navigate challenges created by their clients’ detention and immigration status.
Taught by a panel of current and former defense, civil rights, and private-practice attorneys, this seminar will explain and explore the law and practice of material witness representation. Attendees will develop a deeper understanding of the role of material witness counsel and be equipped with helpful materials and opportunities for further learning and engagement.