Becoming a CJA Panel Member
CJA Panel Applications for the term starting in 2021 will be posted in early March. Please check back at that time.
Important Information For New and Prospective Panel Members
The Criminal Justice Act Panel is a group of qualified and court-approved attorneys who are eligible for appointment by the Court to represent individuals in criminal cases who are unable for financial reasons to retain counsel. The appointments are made by the Court on a rotating basis among members of the panel.
All applicants must have their principal place of business within the appropriate venue of the Northern District of California. For the San Jose venue, this includes the counties of Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. For San Francisco/Oakland, this includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma.
There are four panels in the district: a Tier One Trial Panel, a Tier Two Trial Panel, an Appellate Panel, and a Eureka Panel.
Trial Panels: Tier One is made up of the most experienced panel members eligible for appointment in all cases, including the most complex and difficult cases; Tier Two is designed for attorneys who do not meet the Tier One requirements, but are eligible for appointment in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) cases, certain 21 U.S.C. § 841 cases, and other less serious cases identified as appropriate by the Federal Public Defender or the defender’s legal staff.
- Tier One applicants shall have the following qualifications: five years of continuous private federal criminal practice, or seven years of criminal practice in state or federal court, or three years of experience as an Assistant United States Attorney or Assistant Federal Public Defender; and five federal or state felony jury trials. Two of the required trials may be replaced with equivalent experience such as unusually complex matters which are settled short of trial, criminal appeals which require unusual knowledge or effort or substantial civil jury trials.
- Tier Two applicants shall have the following qualifications: five years of continuous criminal practice or three years of experience as an Assistant United States Attorney or Assistant Federal Public Defender, and three felony jury trials in either state or federal court.
Appellate Panel Applicants shall have ten federal or state felony appeals or a combination thereof. Five of the required appeals may be replaced with equivalent experience such as criminal trials, habeas corpus proceedings, or complex criminal matters settled short of trial.
Applicants must meet the general qualifications of eligibility for CJA Panel Membership specified in General Order 2, Section VIII.C.3.
All CJA Panel attorneys are expected to remain current with developments in federal criminal defense law, practice, and procedure, including electronic discovery techniques.
All CJA panel attorneys must have the facilities, resources, and technological capability to effectively and efficiently manage assigned cases, including the availability of office space to meet with clients and the technological resources to receive, review, organize, and otherwise manage electronic discovery and records.