Sunday, March 27, 2016

National Federal Defender and CJA Programs

From CJA Panel Attorney Robert Calbi:

I recently returned from a three-day sentencing workshop put on by the Federal Defender Services Office. The seminar was held in San Diego, California. In my 30-plus years of practice, this was by far the best and most rewarding seminar/workshop that I have attended.

About 30 to 35% of the seminar was in lecture format; the rest of the time was spent in small groups of five or six participants with two facilitating faculty members. The focus was on learning new sentencing practices to help our clients. It was very enlightening.  Each participant was asked to bring an actual case that we were working on to help with sentencing down the road. All participants signed confidentiality agreements so therefore there was no apprehension about sharing input from everyone, including the faculty members.

I would encourage you to attend these workshops. Defender Services goes a long way in trying to assist attorneys in all aspects of federal cases. The tuition is free (it costs the defender services approximately $400 for each participant). You are responsible for your own travel and lodging.  You will also get approximately 20 hours of CLE credit.

This is the third time that I have attended an event sponsored by the Federal Defender Office. The other two were in Chicago in 2012 and in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 2014. These were both more traditional seminars with lectures from attorneys nationwide.  If you would prefer that to the workshop format I would strongly recommend that you attend one of those events.

You also have an opportunity to meet attorneys from across the country who are CJA panel attorneys or attorneys from Federal Public Defender offices. Listening to the stories from different jurisdictions provides you get great insight and a greater appreciation of the judges in the District of Kansas.         

Thanks to Robert for this guest blog. For more information on national programs, visit  

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