Working Draft – 8/28/13Federal Defenders attorneys were forced to request that the trial of alleged terrorist SulaimanAbu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, be postponed. Upon hearing the request, the trial judge called such circumstances “extremely troublesome.” Even where the Federal Defendersare relieved of their representation entirely, new counsel require time (and resources) to get up tospeed on the cases. Ironically, cutbacks to the Federal Defenders do not save any taxpayer funds. Indeed, these reductions actually result in greater spending. Because the SixthAmendment requires us to provide counsel to any indigent person charged with a felony,reducing the Federal Defenders’ staff (who work on salary) results in appointments being shiftedto CJA panel attorneys (who charge hourly), thus increasing costs rather than reducing them. Ona per-case basis, CJA attorneys generally cost taxpayers twenty percent more than their FederalDefenders counterparts. Delays in criminal proceedings are a disservice to the public, thegovernment, and defendants. Public confidence in the justice system erodes when defendants arenot brought swiftly to justice. Delay dims the memories of witnesses and makes some moredifficult to find, thus complicating the government’s ability to prove its case. Delays are alsounfair to defendants, who deserve to have their cases adjudicated as quickly as possible to avoid,among other things, reputational damage from long-pending charges and prolonged pretrialdetention at the expense of their freedom (and taxpayer money).Public safety has also been compromised due to recent funding reductions. TheProbation Department and Pretrial Services Office are tasked with ensuring public safety bymonitoring criminal offenders and defendants through, among other things, in-person meetings,drug testing, drug, mental health and sex offender treatment, and GPS-tracking. Because theSouthern District is home to a large and diverse population spread across an urban, suburban,and rural landscape, monitoring defendants can require substantial officer time and considerableresources. Reductions in clerical staff mean that officers must spend more time onadministrative matters and less time monitoring defendants, and reductions in the number of officers mean each officer is supervising more defendants—both of which adversely affect thequality of supervision thus threatening public safety. For example, recent searches have yieldedthe following seizures: eighty-five grams of heroin, 258 grams of cocaine, large quantities of drug packaging paraphernalia, 180 illegal prescriptions, and chemical agents being used in acounterfeiting/ money laundering scheme. Without these searches, all the above items wouldremain in our community, and, of course, there is no way to know what contraband is presentlyin the community due to fewer searches.Along a similar vein, cuts in law enforcement funds mean less treatment for offendersdeemed at risk.
As a result of sequestration, Probation has been forced toreduce most of the treatment expenses in their office, including a forty-threepercent cut in substance abuse treatment services, a twenty-four percent cutin location monitoring services, and a seven percent cut in mental healthtreatment services. Location monitoring is a tool used to monitor our highestrisk defendants in the community (e.g., sex offenders, violent defendants,