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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Eastern District of Texas

Judge Rodney Gilstrap, Chief Judge
David A. O'Toole, Clerk of Court

CJA Plan

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- current as of February 26, 2019 (General Order 19-05)

 

United States District Court For the
Eastern District of Texas
Criminal Justice Act Plan

I. Authority

Under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) of 1964, as amended, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A, and Guide to Judiciary Policy (Guide), Volume 7A, the judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas adopt this Plan, as approved by the circuit, for furnishing representation in federal court for any person financially unable to obtain adequate representation in accordance with the CJA. This Plan supersedes all prior Criminal Justice Act Plans of this Court.

II. Statement of Policy

A. Objectives

The objectives of this Plan are:

1. to attain the goal of equal justice under the law for all persons;

2. to provide all eligible persons with timely appointed counsel services that are consistent with the best practices of the legal profession, are cost-effective, and protect the independence of the defense function so that the rights of individual defendants are safeguarded and enforced; and

3. to particularize the requirements of the CJA, the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (recodified at 18 U.S.C. § 3599), and Guide, Vol. 7A, in a way that meets the needs of this district.

This Plan must therefore be administered so that those  ccused of a crime, or otherwise eligible for services under the CJA, will not be deprived of the right to counsel, or any element of representation necessary to an effective defense, due to lack of financial resources.

B. Compliance

1. The Court, the District Clerk, the Office of the Federal Public Defender, and private attorneys appointed under the CJA shall comply with the provisions of this Plan, the CJA Guidelines approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States, and any other guidelines that may be implemented by the CJA Committee.

2. The Court will ensure that a current copy of the District Plan is made available on the Court’s website, and provided to CJA counsel upon the attorney’s designation as a member of the CJA panel of private attorneys.

III. Definitions

A. Representation

“Representation” includes counsel and investigative, expert, and other services.

B. Appointed Attorney

“Appointed attorney” includes private attorneys, the Federal Public Defender and staff attorneys of the Federal Public Defender organization.

IV. Determination of Eligibility for CJA Representation

A. Subject Matter Eligibility

1. Mandatory

Representation must be provided for any financially eligible person who:

a. is charged with a felony or with a Class A misdemeanor;

b. is a juvenile alleged to have committed an act of juvenile delinquency as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 5031;

c. is charged with a violation of probation or faces a change of a term or condition of probation (unless the modification sought is favorable to the probationer and the government has not objected to the proposed change) ;

d. is under arrest, when such representation is required by law;

e. is entitled to appointment of counsel in parole proceedings;

f. is charged with a violation of supervised release or faces modification, reduction or enlargement of a condition, or extension or revocation of a term of supervised release;

g. is subject to a mental condition hearing under 18 U.S.C. chapter 313;

h. is in custody as a material witness;

i. is seeking to set aside or vacate a death sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or § 2255;

j. is entitled to appointment of counsel in verification of consent proceedings in connection with a transfer of an offender to or from the United States for the execution of a penal sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 4109;

k. is entitled to appointment of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution; or

l. faces loss of liberty in a case and federal law requires the appointment of counsel.

2. Discretionary

Whenever a district judge or magistrate judge determines that the interests of justice so require, representation may be provided for any financially eligible person who:

a. is charged with a petty offense (Class B or C misdemeanor, or an infraction) for which a sentence to confinement is authorized;

b. is seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2254, or 2255, other than to set aside or vacate a death sentence;

c. is charged with civil or criminal contempt and faces loss of liberty;

d. has been called as a witness before a grand jury, a court, the Congress, or a federal agency or commission which has the power to compel testimony, and there is reason to believe, either prior to or during testimony, that the witness could be subject to a criminal prosecution, a civil or criminal contempt proceeding, or face loss of liberty;

e. has been advised by the United States attorney or a law enforcement officer that they are the target of a grand jury investigation;

f. is proposed by the United States attorney for processing under a pretrial diversion program; or

g. is held for international extradition under 18 U.S.C. chapter 209.

3. Ancillary Matters

Representation may also be furnished for financially eligible persons in ancillary matters appropriate to the proceedings pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3006A. In determining whether a matter is ancillary to the proceedings, the Court should consider whether the matter, or the issues of law or fact in the matter, arose from, or are the same as or closely related to the facts and circumstances surrounding the principal charge. In determining whether representation in an ancillary matter is appropriate to the proceedings, the court should consider whether such representation is reasonably necessary:

a. to protect a constitutional right;

b. to contribute in some significant way to the defense of the principal criminal charge;

c. to aid in preparation for the trial or disposition of the principal criminal charge;

d. to enforce the terms of a plea agreement in the principal criminal charge;

e. to preserve the claim of the CJA client to an interest in real or personal property subject to a civil forfeiture proceeding under 21 U.S.C. § 881, 19 U.S.C. § 1602, 18 U.S.C. § 983, or similar statutes, which property, if recovered by the CJA client, may be considered for reimbursement under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(f) and Guide, Vol. 7A. § 210.40.30; or

f. to effectuate the return of real or personal property belonging to the CJA client which may be subject to a motion for return of property under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g), which property, if recovered by the CJA client, may be considered for reimbursement under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(f) and Guide, Vol. 7A. U.S.C. § 210.40.30

B. Financial Eligibility

1. Presentation of Accused for Financial Eligibility Determination

a. Duties of Law Enforcement

(i) Upon arrest, and where the defendant has not retained or waived counsel, federal law enforcement officials must promptly notify, telephonically or electronically, the appropriate court personnel, who in turn will notify the Federal Public Defender of the arrest of an individual in connection with a federal criminal charge.

(ii) Employees of law enforcement agencies should not participate in the completion of the financial affidavit or seek to obtain information concerning financial eligibility from a person requesting the appointment of counsel.

b. Duties of United States Attorney’s Office

(i) Upon the return or unsealing of an indictment or the filing of a criminal information, and where the defendant has not retained or waived counsel, the United States attorney or their delegate will promptly notify, telephonically or electronically, appropriate court personnel, who in turn will notify the Federal Public Defender.

(ii) Upon issuance of a target letter, and where the individual has not retained or waived counsel, the United States attorney or their delegate must promptly notify, telephonically or electronically, the appropriate court personnel, who in turn will notify the Federal Public Defender, unless the United States Attorney’s Office is aware of an actual or potential conflict with the target and the Federal Public Defender, in which case they must promptly notify the court.

(iii) Employees of the United States Attorney’s Office should not participate in the completion of the financial affidavit or seek to obtain information concerning financial eligibility from a person requesting the appointment of counsel.

c. Duties of Federal Public Defender Office

(i) In cases in which the Federal Public Defender may be appointed, the office will:

  • immediately investigate and determine whether an actual or potential conflict exists; and
  • in the event of an actual or potential conflict, promptly notify the Court to facilitate the timely appointment of other counsel.

d. Duties of Pretrial Services Office

(i) When practicable, the pretrial services officer will not conduct the pretrial service interview of a financially eligible defendant until counsel has been appointed, unless the right to counsel is waived or the defendant otherwise consents to a pretrial service interview without counsel.

(ii) When counsel has been appointed, the pretrial services officer, will then provide counsel notice and a reasonable opportunity to attend any interview of the defendant by the pretrial services officer prior to the initial pretrial release or detention hearing.

2. Factual Determination of Financial Eligibility

a. In every case where appointment of counsel is authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a) and related statutes, the court must advise the person that he or she has a right to be represented by counsel throughout the case and that, if so desired, counsel will be appointed to represent the person if he or she is financially unable to obtain counsel.

b. The determination of eligibility for representation under the CJA is a judicial function to be performed by the court after making appropriate inquiries concerning the person’s financial eligibility. Other employees of the court may be designated to obtain or verify the facts relevant to the financial eligibility determination.

c. In determining whether a person is “financially unable to obtain counsel,” consideration should be given to the cost of providing the person and his or her dependents with the necessities of life, the cost of securing pretrial release, asset encumbrance, and the likely cost of retained counsel.

d. The initial determination of eligibility must be made without regard to the financial ability of the person’s family to retain counsel unless their family indicates willingness and ability to do so promptly.

e. Any doubts about a person’s eligibility should be resolved in the person’s favor; erroneous determinations of eligibility may be corrected at a later time.

f. Relevant information bearing on the person’s financial eligibility should be reflected on a financial eligibility affidavit (Form CJA 23).

g. If at any time after the appointment of counsel a judge finds that a person provided representation is financially able to obtain counsel or make partial payment for the representation, the judge may terminate the appointment of counsel or direct that any funds available to the defendant be paid as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(f).

h. If at any stage of the proceedings a judge finds that a person is no longer financially able to pay retained counsel, counsel may be appointed in accordance with the general provisions set forth in this Plan.

V. Timely Appointment of Counsel

A. Timing of Appointment

Counsel must be provided to eligible persons as soon as feasible in the following circumstances, whichever occurs earliest:

1. after they are taken into custody;

2. when they appear before a magistrate or district court judge;

3. when they are formally charged or notified of charges if formal charges are sealed; or

4. when a magistrate or district court judge otherwise considers appointment of counsel appropriate under the CJA and related statutes.

B. Court’s Responsibility

The court, in cooperation with the Federal Public Defender and the United States Attorney, will make such arrangements with federal, state, and local investigative and police agencies as will ensure timely appointment of counsel.

C. Pretrial Service Interview

When practicable, unless the right to counsel is waived or the defendant otherwise consents to a pretrial service interview without counsel, financially eligible defendants will be provided appointed counsel prior to being interviewed by a pretrial services officer.

D. Retroactive Appointment of Counsel

Appointment of counsel may be made retroactive to include representation provided prior to appointment.

VI. Provision of Representational Services

A. Federal Public Defender and Private Counsel

This Plan provides for representational services by the Federal Public Defender organization and for the appointment and compensation of private counsel from a CJA Panel list maintained by the United States District Clerk in cases authorized under the CJA and related statutes.

B. Administration

Administration of the CJA Panel, as set forth in this Plan, is hereby delegated and assigned to the United States District Clerk.

C. Apportionment of Cases

Where practical and cost effective, private attorneys from the CJA Panel will be appointed in a substantial proportion of the cases in which the accused is determined to be financially eligible for representation under the CJA. “Substantial” will usually be defined as a minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the annual CJA appointments.

D. Number of Counsel

More than one attorney may be appointed in any case determined by the court to be extremely difficult.

E. Capital Cases

Procedures for appointment of counsel in cases where the defendant is charged with a crime that may be punishable by death, or is seeking to vacate or set aside a death sentence in proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254 or 2255, are set forth in section XIII of this Plan.

VII. Federal Public Defender Organization

A. Establishment

The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Texas is established in this district under the CJA and is responsible for rendering defense services on appointment throughout this district.

B. Standards

The Federal Public Defender organization must provide high quality representation consistent with the best practices of the legal profession and commensurate with those services rendered when counsel is privately retained. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,  318 (1981) (“‘Once a lawyer has undertaken the representation of an accused, the duties and obligations are the same whether the lawyer is privately retained, appointed, or serving in a legal aid or defender program’”).

C. Workload

The Federal Public Defender organization will continually monitor the workloads of its staff to ensure high quality representation for all clients.

D. Professional Conduct

The Federal Public Defender organization must conform to the highest standards of professional conduct, including but not limited to the Code of Conduct for Federal Public Defender Employees and the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct.

E. Private Practice of Law

Neither the Federal Public Defender nor any defender employee may engage in the private practice of law except as authorized by the Federal Public Defender Code of Conduct.

F. Supervision of Defender Organization

The Federal Public Defender will be responsible for the supervision and management of the Federal Public Defender organization. Accordingly, the Federal Public Defender will be appointed in all cases assigned to that organization for subsequent assignment to staff attorneys at the discretion of the Federal Public Defender.

G. Training

The Federal Public Defender will assess the training needs of Federal Public Defender staff and in coordination with the CJA Panel Attorney District Representative, the training needs of the local panel attorneys, and provide training opportunities and other educational resources. 1

 1 The CJA Panel Attorney District Representative (PADR) is a member of the district’s CJA Panel who is selected by the local Federal Public Defender, with acquiescence from the chief judge, to serve as the representative of the district’s CJA Panel for the national Defender Services CJA PADR program and local CJA committees.

VIII. CJA Panel of Private Attorneys

A. Establishment of the CJA Panel Committee

1. A CJA Panel Committee (“CJA Committee”) will be established by the Court in consultation with the Federal Public Defender. The Federal Public Defender will be the chair of the CJA Panel Committee.

2. The Federal Public Defender and the United States District Clerk, or their representative, are permanent members of the CJA Committee.

3. The CJA Committee will meet at least once a year and at any time the Court asks the Committee to consider an issue.

B. Duties of the CJA Committee

1. Membership

Examine the qualifications of applicants for membership on the CJA Panel and recommend to the Chief Judge the approval of those attorneys who are deemed qualified and the rejection of the applications of those attorneys deemed unqualified.

2. Recruitment

Engage in recruitment efforts to establish a diverse panel and ensure that all qualified attorneys are encouraged to participate in the furnishing of representation in CJA cases.

3. Annual Report

Review the operation and administration of the CJA Panel over the preceding year, and recommend any necessary or appropriate changes to the Chief Judge concerning:

a. the size of the CJA Panel;

b. the recruitment of qualified and diverse attorneys as required and set forth in this plan; and

c. recurring issues or difficulties encountered by panel members or their CJA clients.

4. Removal

Recommend to the Chief Judge the removal of any CJA panel member who:

a. fails to satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of CJA panel membership during their term of service, including the failure to provide high quality representation to CJA clients, or

b. has engaged in other conduct such that his or her continued service on the CJA Panel is inappropriate. See also Section IX.C.5

5. Training

Assist the Federal Public Defender Office in providing training for the CJA Panel on substantive and procedural legal matters affecting representation of CJA clients.

IX. Establishment of a CJA Panel

A. Approval of CJA Panel

1. The existing, previously established panel of attorneys who are eligible and willing to be appointed to provide representation under the CJA is hereby recognized.

2. The chair of the CJA Committee will provide to the Chief Judge the names of the attorneys for membership on the CJA Panel after receiving recommendations from the CJA Committee.

B. Size of CJA Panel

1. The size of the CJA Panel will be determined by the CJA Committee based on the caseload and activity of the panel members, subject to review by the court.

2. The CJA Panel must be large enough to provide a sufficient number of experienced attorneys to handle the CJA caseload, yet small enough so that CJA panel members will receive an adequate number of appointments to maintain their proficiency in federal criminal defense work enabling them to provide high quality representation consistent with the best practices of the legal profession and commensurate with those services rendered when counsel is privately retained.

C. Qualifications and Membership on the CJA Panel

1. Application

Application forms for membership on the CJA Panel are available from the United States District Clerk.

2. Equal Opportunity

All qualified attorneys are encouraged to participate in the furnishing of representation in CJA cases.

3. Eligibility

a. Applicants for the CJA Panel must be members in good standing of the federal bar of this district and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

b. Applicants must possess strong litigation skills and demonstrate proficiency with the federal sentencing guidelines, federal sentencing procedures, the Bail Reform Act, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence.

c. Applicants must have significant experience representing persons charged with serious criminal offenses and demonstrate a commitment to the defense of people who lack the financial means to hire an attorney.

d. Attorneys who do not possess the experience set forth above but believe they have equivalent other experience are encouraged to apply and set forth in writing the details of that experience for the CJA Committee’s consideration.

4. Appointment to CJA Panel

After considering the recommendations of the CJA Committee, the Chief Judge will appoint, remove or reappoint attorneys to the CJA Panel.

5. Removal from the CJA Panel

a. Mandatory removal

Any member of the CJA Panel who is suspended or disbarred from the practice of law by the state court before whom such member is admitted, or who is suspended or disbarred from this court or any federal court, will be removed from the CJA Panel immediately.

Review

The CJA Committee will conduct an automatic review of any CJA panel member against whom any licensing authority, grievance committee, or administrative body has taken action, or when a finding of probable cause, contempt, sanction, or reprimand has been issued against the panel member by any state or federal court, to determine if the attorney should be removed from the CJA Panel.

b. Judicial Removal.

Any United States District Court Judge may, for good cause, remove the name of an attorney from the CJA Panel. X. CJA Panel Attorney Appointment in Non-Capital Cases

A. Appointment List

The United States District Clerk will maintain a current list of all attorneys included on the CJA Panel, with current office addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers.

B. Appointment Procedures

1. The Court is responsible for overseeing the appointment of cases to panel attorneys. The United States District Clerk will maintain a record of panel attorney appointments and data reflecting the apportionment of appointments between attorneys from the Federal Public Defender Office and panel attorneys.

2. Appointment of cases to CJA panel members will ordinarily be made on a rotational basis. In a complex or otherwise difficult case, the Court may appoint counsel outside of the normal rotation to ensure the defendant has sufficiently experienced counsel. The Court may also consider the ability of a CJA panel member to speak a foreign language when making appointments.

XI. Duties of CJA Panel Members

A. Standards and Professional Conduct

1. CJA panel members must provide high quality representation consistent with the best practices of the legal profession and commensurate with those services rendered when counsel is privately retained. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 318 (1981) (“‘Once a lawyer has undertaken the representation of an accused, the duties and obligations are the same whether the lawyer is privately retained, appointed, or serving in a legal aid or defender program.’” (quoting ABA Standards for Criminal Justice § 4-3.9 (2d ed. 1980))).

2. Attorneys appointed under the CJA must conform to the highest standards of professional conduct, including but not limited to the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct.

3. CJA panel members must notify within 30 days the chair of the CJA Committee when any licensing authority, grievance committee, or administrative body has taken action against them, or when a finding of contempt, sanction, or reprimand has been issued against the panel member by any state of federal court.

B. Training and Continuing Legal Education

1. Attorneys on the CJA Panel are expected to remain current with developments in federal criminal defense law, practice, and procedure, including the Recommendation for Electronically Stored Information (ESI) Discovery Production in Federal Criminal Cases.

2. Attorneys on the CJA Panel are expected to attend federal criminal law training on an annual basis. They should attend the Texas Eastern Criminal Bench Bar Conference and/or similar training on an annual basis.

3. Failure to comply with these training and legal education requirements may be grounds for removal from the CJA Panel.

C. Facilities and Technology Requirements

1. CJA panel attorneys must have facilities, resources, and technological capability to effectively and efficiently manage assigned cases.

2. CJA panel attorneys must comply with the requirements of electronic filing and eVoucher.

3. CJA panel attorneys must know and abide by procedures related to requests for investigative, expert, and other services.

D. Continuing Representation

Once counsel is appointed under the CJA, counsel will continue the representation until the matter, including appeals (unless provided otherwise by the Fifth Circuit’s CJA plan) or review by certiorari, is closed; or until substitute counsel has filed a notice of appearance; or until an order is entered allowing or requiring the person represented to proceed pro se; or until the appointment is terminated by court order.

E. Miscellaneous

1. Case budgeting

In non-capital representations of unusual complexity that are likely to become extraordinary in terms of cost, the court may require development of a case budget consistent with Guide, Vol. 7A, Ch. 2, §§ 230.26.10–20.

2. No receipt of other payment

Appointed counsel may not require, request, or accept any payment or promise of payment or any other valuable consideration for representation under the CJA, unless such payment is approved by order of the court.

3. Redetermination of need

If at any time after appointment, counsel has reason to believe that a party is financially able to obtain counsel, or make partial payment for counsel, and the source of counsel’s information is not protected as a privileged communication, counsel will advise the court.

XII. Compensation of CJA Panel Attorneys

A. Policy of the Court Regarding Compensation

Providing fair compensation to appointed counsel is a critical component of the administration of justice. CJA panel attorneys must be compensated for time expended in court and time reasonably expended out of court, and reimbursed for expenses reasonably incurred.

B. Payment Procedures

1. Claims for compensation must be submitted on the appropriate CJA form through the court’s eVoucher system.

2. Claims for compensation should be submitted no later than 45 days after final disposition of the case, unless good cause is shown.

3. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the court should act on CJA compensation claims within 30 days of submission, and vouchers should not be delayed or reduced for the purpose of diminishing Defender Services program costs in response to adverse financial circumstances.

4. Except in cases involving mathematical corrections, no claim for compensation submitted for services provided under the CJA will be reduced without affording counsel notice and the opportunity to be heard.

XIII. Investigative, Expert, and Other Services

A. Financial Eligibility

Counsel for a person who is financially unable to obtain investigative, expert, or other services necessary for an adequate defense may request such services as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(e)(1), regardless of whether counsel is appointed under the CJA. Upon finding that the services are necessary, and that the person is financially unable to obtain them, the Court must authorize counsel to obtain the services. In seeking investigative expert, or other services, counsel must comply with Judicial Conference policies set forth in the Guide, Vol. 7A, Ch.3.

B. Ex parte Applications

In non-capital cases, requests for authorization of funds for investigative, expert, and other services must be submitted in an ex parte application to the Court and must not be disclosed except with the consent of the person represented or as required by law or Judicial Conference policy.

XIV. Appointment of Counsel in CJA Capital Cases and Capital Eligible Prosecutions

A. Applicable Legal Authority

The appointment and compensation of counsel in capital cases and the authorization and payment of persons providing investigative, expert, and other services are governed by 18 U.S.C. §§ 3005, 3006A, and 3599 2, and Guide, Vol. 7A, Ch. 6, and the Special Procedures for Reviewing Attorney Compensation Requests in Death Penalty Cases promulgated by the Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit.

B. Capital and Capital-Eligible Prosecutions

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3005, a person charged with a federal capital offense is entitled to the appointment of two attorneys, at least one of whom shall be learned in the law applicable to capital cases. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(a)(1)(B), if necessary for adequate  representation, more than two attorneys may be appointed to represent a defendant in such a case. In assigning counsel, the Court shall consider the recommendation of the Federal Public Defender organization.

C. Qualifications of Counsel

Qualifications for appointed counsel shall be determined by the Court. In capital cases, the following also applies:

2As to investigate, expert, and other services, Section 3599(f) provides:

Upon a finding that investigative, expert, or other services are reasonably necessary for the representation of the defendant, whether in connection with issues relating to guilt or the sentence, the court may authorize the defendant’s attorneys to obtain such services on  behalf of the defendant and, if so authorized, shall order the payment of fees and expenses therefor under subsection (g). No ex parte proceeding, communication, or request may be considered pursuant to this section unless a proper showing is made concerning the need for confidentiality. Any such proceeding, communication, or request shall be transcribed and made a part of the record available for appellate review.

1. Appointment of Counsel Prior to Judgment. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(b), at least one of the attorneys appointed must have been admitted to practice in the Court in which the case will be prosecuted for not less than five years, and must have had not less than three years of experience in the actual trial of felony prosecutions in that Court. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3005, at least one of the attorneys appointed must be knowledgeable in the law applicable to capital cases. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3005, in appointing counsel in federal capital prosecutions, the Court shall consider the recommendation of the Federal Public Defender.

2. Appointment of Counsel After Judgment. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(c), at least one of the attorneys appointed must have been admitted to practice in the Court of Appeals for not less than five years, and must have had not less than three years of experience in the handling of appeals in felony cases in the Court.

3. Attorney Qualification Waiver. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(d), the presiding judicial officer, for good cause, may appoint an attorney who may not qualify under 18 U.S.C. 3599(b) or (c), but who has the background, knowledge, and experience necessary to represent the defendant properly in a capital case, giving due consideration to the seriousness of the possible penalty and the unique and complex nature of the litigation.

D. Capital Habeas Corpus Proceedings. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(a)(2), a financially eligible person seeking to vacate or set aside a death sentence in proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or 2255 is entitled to appointment of one or more qualified attorneys. Due to the complex, demanding, or protracted nature of death penalty proceedings, judicial officers should consider appointing two or more counsel.

E. Capital Habeas Units (CHUs). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has approved the establishment of two Capital Habeas Units (CHUs) in the State of Texas, one in the Northern District of Texas (Dallas) and one in the Western District of Texas (Austin). These units will represent capital habeas petitioners in Federal Court state-wide, including the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas.