The Defender Services Office Training Division furthers the right to effective assistance of counsel by providing training and other resources to attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act.

    November 03, 2014
    New Sentencing Guidelines Manual Now Available

    The 2014 Sentencing Guidelines Manual is now available in both PDF and HTML formats. 

    For an overview of the amendments that took effect on November 1, 2014, see this Summary of 2014 Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines by National Sentencing Resource Counsel. 

    For guidance on the 2014 Amendments to USSG § 1B1.10, see FAQS: 2014 Amendments to USSG § 1B1.10: Retroactivity of "Drugs Minus 2" (Amendment 782) and Sentence Reductions in Cases Involving Mandatory Minimums and Substantial Assistance.

    October 15, 2014
    DOJ Announces New Policy: Prosecutors Should Not Request IAC Waivers in Plea Agreements

    In a press release issued yesterday, the Department of Justice announced a new policy of no longer asking "criminal defendants who plead guilty to waive their right to bring future claims of ineffective assistance of counsel." 

    Deputy Attorney General Cole conveyed the new policy to all federal prosecutors in this memo: Department Policy on Waivers of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.  The memo directs prosecutors to no longer seek IAC waivers in plea agreements "whether those claims are made on collateral attack or, when permitted by circuit law, made on direct appeal."  And in cases with an existing IAC waiver, "prosecutors should decline to enforce the waiver when defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance resulting in prejudice or when the defendant's ineffective assistance claim raises a serious debatable issue that a court should resolve."

    October 03, 2014
    Supreme Court to Hear Cases on Length of Traffic Stops, and Confrontation Clause Challenge to the Use of a Child's Out-of-Court Statements About Abuse

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted cert in two criminal cases, Rodriguez v. United States (No. 13-9972) and Ohio v. Clark (No. 13-1352). 

    In Rodriguez, the question presented, as stated in the petition, is:

    This Court has held that, during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, asking a driver to exit a
    vehicle, conducting a drug sniff with a trained canine, or asking a few off-topic questions are "de minimis" intrusions on personal liberty that do not require reasonable suspicion of
    criminal activity in order to comport with the Fourth Amendment. This case poses the
    question of whether the same rule applies after the conclusion of the traffic stop, so that an
    officer may extend the already-completed stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.

    In Clark, the Court will address  (1) Whether an individual's obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child's out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher's concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause.

    October 01, 2014
    Attorney General Holder Issues Memo on  § 851 Enhancements in Plea Negotiations

    In a memo dated September 24, 2014 - Guidance Regarding § 851 Enhancements in Plea Negotiations - Attorney General Eric Holder directed all federal prosecutors that such enhancements "should not be used in plea negotiations for the sole or predominant purpose of inducing a defendant to plead guilty."  Also, at least one news report indicates that Holder may issue additional memos, including one announcing that federal prosecutors will no longer request that defendants waive their right to appeal for ineffective assistance of counsel when pleading guilty: "Government Rethinks Waivers With Guilty Pleas" (Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2014).


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