« | »

Furloughs May Limit Jokar’s Public Defenders

From the National Law Journal:

Furloughs May Limit Public Defenders For Boston Bomb Suspect

Zoe Tillman | 04-25-2013

As the federal public defender office in Boston prepares to defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old charged in the Boston Marathon bombings, the lawyers involved face an added challenge: managing the case in the midst of furloughs.

Federally mandated budget cuts known as sequestration could force Tsarnaev’s lawyers to take up to 15 days of unpaid leave before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Lawyers familiar with the office said it is feeling the pinch in other ways, including leaving vacant positions unfilled.

The Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference approved a sequestration plan last week that included up to 15 furlough days for federal public defender offices nationwide. The plan slightly lowered the maximum furlough days facing the Boston office, which was planning for up to 16.5 days, according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Representatives of the defender office and the court could not be reached to confirm the number of furlough days that lawyers and non-attorney staff in Boston must take.

"There’s no doubt that the sequester is going to affect the administration of justice in general, in Boston, and with this case specifically," said John Cunha Jr. of Boston’s Cunha & Holcomb, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Thirteen attorneys serve in the Boston federal public defender office. The furloughs would coincide with the early weeks of Tsarnaev’s defense, which Cunha said is a "crucial" time. "You start to figure out where you are and where the government is and where they’re going to go and how to protect this person’s rights." He added that the defender office hasn’t filled vacant positions under sequestration.

Prosecutors face furloughs under sequestration as well. Still, Tamar Birckhead, a former assistant federal public defender in Boston and professor at University of North Carolina School of Law, described the situation as "David and Goliath" because the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston was backed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"People will pitch in and do what they can, but it is an unfortunate circumstance," Birckhead said. "It could result in a delay of a possible resolution of the case, which I’m sure is not what the public wants to see." …

You just knew this was coming. Never let any crisis go to waste, if you can blame it on the Republicans. After all, we don’t want this trial to be dragged out.

Still, we’re now being told that the administrators of Obama-Care are not going to face furloughs. Neither is the IRS or the Justice Department. And neither is the USDA’s food stamp recruitment program.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, April 25th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

No Responses to “Furloughs May Limit Jokar’s Public Defenders”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »