2014 CJA Plan Introduction

The current Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Plan (2014) was approved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and became effective September 2, 2014.  The full plan, and all attachments, are posted on the official website of the United States District Court for the District of Montana at http://www.mtd.uscourts.gov/cja-plan-and-panel-selection-process. Among the revisions, the Court established a CJA Panel Selection Committee (CJA Committee) to assure the proper composition, administration, and management of the panel of private attorneys to be appointed under the Act.  The current membership of the CJA Committee is published on the website of the U.S. District Court.

Information concerning the October 2016 CJA Panel Plan for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the circuit's CJA policies, revised May 15, 2017, can be accessed by going to:  https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/attorneys.

Reduction in Panel Size

Traditionally, the Montana CJA Panel consists of experienced, highly qualified attorneys who specialize in, or who have a demonstrated competence in, federal criminal defense.  In that vein, one of the duties of the Selection Committee is to periodically review member attorneys.  In November 2014, the Selection Committee began the review process.  The Committee met again in January 2015 to continue the initial examination of the entire Panel membership.  The Committee's analysis was completed in May 2015 and revealed that some Panel members had not accepted a CJA assignment in several years, some had not maintained contact with the Federal Defenders of Montana and/or the Court nor sought appointments in quite some time, and some had simply moved away and were no longer residing in Montana.  The CJA Committee determined these individuals would be removed from the Panel.

Next, the Committee determined that each panel member must be admitted to practice in the United States of Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to assure continuity of counsel on appeal.  Some lawyers, although qualified to do so, had not been admitted to the Bar of the Circuit Court.  Those attorneys were removed from the Panel.

Finally, the CJA Committee had to decide how to achieve a balance of CJA appointments as mandated by the new Plan.   The Committee determined an optimum number of members for each Division of the Court to provide for a sufficient number of appointments to maintain proficiency.  Then, the CJA Committee reached the difficult conclusion that a reduction in the number of panel lawyers was necessary in all of the Court's Divisions.

The CJA Committee removed several attorneys, some long-time members, from the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the District of Montana.  An optimal number of attorneys was thereafter achieved in each of the Court's Divisions.  Through retirement, attrition and removal, future positions will become available in one or more Divisions.  As openings occur they will be posted on the website of the Federal Defenders of Montana (www.fdom.org).   If a position opens in the Division where you maintain your office, you are welcome to apply or reapply at that time.


CJA Panel:  Divisional Maximum Membership

CJA Panel Attorneys must maintain the highest standards of criminal defense, effective federal sentencing advocacy, thorough understanding of the United States statutes, and comprehensive familiarity with local and national rules.  To assure sufficient CJA assignments for each attorney during a Calendar Year to uphold these standards, the CJA Selection Committee has established Divisional Panel Membership limits:

Billings 19 (1 Vacancies)
Great Falls 14 (0 Vacancies)
Helena 7 (1 Vacancies)
Missoula (Including Butte) 18 (0 Vacancies)
Appeals Only 2 (No Vacancy)


The Federal Defenders of Montana will post on this website (www.fdom.org) and/or publish at the U.S. District Court Clerk's Office any vacancies in the individual divisional panels.  Applications for membership to the CJA Panel in that division will be considered by the CJA Selection Committee in the order received.  Applications may be submitted until notified on this site that the vacancy has been filled.


Last updated Thursday, February 21, 2019


CJA Panel:  Application for Membership

The Montana Criminal Justice Act Panel now consists of over 65 member attorneys.  The CJA Selection Committee has established limits on the composition of divisional panels.


Openings on Divisional CJA Panel(s) will be posted on this website.  See CJA Panel:  Divisional Maximum Membership. 


Vacancies remain open until filled.


Applicants for a Divisional CJA Panel Attorney vacancy must submit a completed application.  Click Here to download the Application form in Adobe Acrobat format.  The form includes fillable fields.  You can print the completed form and save it to your computer or other electronic device.  The completed form should be emailed in Adobe Acrobat format to the CJA Panel Administrator Adina Poitra.  Click Here for Email Address.  If submitted by mail, send the application to:  CJA Panel Selection Committee, ATTN CJA Panel Administrator, 104 Second Street South, Suite 301, Great Falls, MT 59401.


To learn more about the CJA Panel in this district, please refer to the memorandum INTRODUCTION TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT AND THE MONTANA CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT PANEL.  Click Here to download.