Court Honors CJA Attorneys
Posted 09/14/09

Recently the court hosted events in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids to honor those who serve and to recognize one attorney in each city as the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel Lawyer of the Year. The following attorneys were recognized for their service of ten or more years as panel attorneys: Patrick Parry, Jon Hammond, Scott Rhinehart, Anne Laverty, Douglas Roehrich, David Nadler, Al Willett, Ray Scheetz, Leon Spies, Les Stokke, and Steve Swift. Jon Hammond was honored as the CJA Attorney of the Year in Cedar Rapids, and Patrick Parry was honored as the CJA Attorney of the Year in Sioux City.

The Northern District of Iowa is pleased to recognize those lawyers who volunteer in the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) program, providing quality legal representation to criminal defendants The Sixth Amendment provides that "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense." A defendant's need for a lawyer is nowhere better stated than in the moving words of Mr. Justice Sutherland in Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S.68, "The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel. Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law. If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. He is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence. Left without the aid of counsel he may be put on trial without a proper charge, and convicted upon incompetent evidence, or evidence irrelevant to the issue or otherwise inadmissible. He lacks both the skill and knowledge adequately to prepare his defense, even though he have a perfect one. He requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him. Without it, though he be not guilty, he faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence."

As part of it’s obligation to comply with such constitutional mandates, Congress enacted the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. 3006A. The same provides for the appointment of competent counsels to represent indigent defendants at no cost for the accused. The CJA is administered under the Guidelines for the Administration of the CJA and Related Statutes, pursuant to approval of the Judicial Conference of the United States.