CJA Appointments

  • Overview

    The court appoints counsel under the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A, for persons financially unable to obtain counsel to represent them on appeal of a criminal conviction or in another matter implicating the person's liberty. Upon a finding of financial eligibility, the court automatically appoints counsel in cases in which appointment of counsel is mandatory and appoints counsel upon a determination that the interests of justice warrant appointment in cases in which appointment of counsel is discretionary.  

  • Mandatory Appointments

    Mandatory appellate appointments are made in the following types of cases (see § 230.23.20 for case compensation limits):
    • Appeals from felony or class A misdemeanor convictions
    • Appeals from juvenile delinquency adjudications
    • Appeals in 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or 2255 cases challenging capital convictions
    • Government appeals from the grant of 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or 2255 relief
    • Supervised release revocation appeals
    • Bail appeals
    • Appeals from mental condition hearings
    • Interlocutory government appeals from suppression of evidence
    • Cases involving a potential loss of liberty in which the Sixth Amendment or federal law requires appointment of counsel
    In mandatory appointment cases, the court automatically appoints counsel who represented the defendant in the district court to continue that representation on appeal, except that district court counsel is not automatically appointed in any of the following situations:
    • Counsel has moved to withdraw based upon his or her professional judgment that appointment of new counsel on appeal is in the best interests of the client and consistent with counsel's professional skills and obligations. Motions to withdraw should be filed in the court of appeals and may be filed in paper form if counsel is not a member of the bar or registered for electronic filing.
    • The defendant is claiming ineffective assistance of counsel in the district court.
    • The notice of appeal was filed pro se and out of time.
    If appointment of new counsel on appeal is required, counsel is appointed in rotation from the court's CJA Panel.
  • Discretionary Appointments

    The court of appeals appoints counsel in the following matters only after a judicial determination that the interests of justice require legal representation (see § 230.23.20 for case compensation limits):
    • Appeals from the denial of relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or 2255
    • Motions for authorization to file successive petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2244
    • Petitions for writ of mandamus
    • Appeals from petty offenses (class B or C misdemeanor or infraction)
    • Appeals from post-judgment criminal motions
    • Appeals from civil forfeiture of defendant's property
    The appeal is initially set on an informal briefing schedule, and counsel may file a motion for appointment of counsel setting forth reasons why representation is required on appeal. If the court determines that the interests of justice require legal representation and the defendant was represented below, the court will appoint district court counsel to continue that representation on appeal. If the defendant was not represented below or district court counsel moves to withdraw from further representation, new counsel on appeal will be appointed from the court's Discretionary Panel.