TRAINING BRANCH HOTLINE
The Office of Defender Services Training Branch operates a free telephone "hotline" service to provide guidance and information on CJA cases regarding all aspects of criminal law and procedure. To use the hotline, callers must be licensed attorneys who are either members of the federal Criminal Justice Act panel in their district, or federal public or community defender organization employees.
Hotline callers will be connected to one of our permanent or visiting attorney-advisors. If the attorney-advisor on duty is not available at the time of your call, you will be connected to his or her voice mail and the attorney-advisor will return your call as soon possible. Hotline hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
Our attorney-advisors may answer questions regarding the application of criminal statutes, rules or sentencing guidelines, direct callers to additional resources, and, where appropriate, refer callers to other attorneys with expertise in a particular area of the law. If additional research on a topic is required, we will try to advise callers on research strategies, but we do not provide individualized research. Each lawyer has the professional obligation to provide effective assistance of counsel to each client. Use of the hotline should not be considered a substitute for the investigation, research, analysis, and advocacy necessary to fulfill that obligation. In addition, callers should consider any guidance provided by our attorney-advisors as advice from a fellow colleague, not as an advisory opinion or any other type of legal authority.
CJA panel attorneys should keep in mind that many questions turn, at least in part, on knowledge of local federal practice or state law, as well as familiarity with the federal judges and prosecutors in the district in which a case is proceeding. As a result, we strongly recommend that, prior to calling the hotline, attorneys first seek assistance from the Federal Public or Community Defender's Office in their district. Many of these offices assign duty attorneys to answer inquiries from members of the CJA panel. Contact information for FDOs and CDOs nationwide may be found here.