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News from the Director

FDAP Assistance
March 31, 2003

We at FDAP have been pleased (and proud) about the quality of the assistance we provide to the panel. However, we must make some changes in terms of the amount of time we can devote to assistance. There are some general constraints on the projects concerning the amount of assistance time available, and we must operate within those constraints. This is a tricky item to discuss, because, simultaneously, we want to encourage assistance when it is needed but discourage an excessive amount given the constraints upon us. We definitely do not want to undo the partnership we have provided both in assisted appeals and also in independent cases where the panel attorney has had questions or problems. Yet, we must reduce, to a degree, the amount of assistance we have been providing.

As a few general guides:

Independent cases. In an independent case, it is generally expected that you will do the case entirely on your own. Consultation with FDAP should only be about truly crucial matters concerning issues or procedural problems where you feel you need input. When you do consult, please keep the discussion short and to the point; the FDAP buddy will be able to discuss the matter with you, but generally will not be able to undertake research. There have been some cases where the panel attorney has consulted with FDAP frequently during the case, just to be reassured that he/she has not missed something. Such consultation is really inappropriate in an independent case, and we simply do not have time to provide that kind of assistance.

Assisted cases. In a fully assisted case, we will be providing the same kind of assistance as we have in the past. However, we will also be using more "modified" assisted cases as well. In some of these cases we are confident of your issue-spotting abilities and we therefore will confine our main assistance to reviewing a draft of your AOB before it is filed. Conversely, in other modified cases we may provide an initial memo on issues but not review a draft of the AOB before it is filed. When you receive one of these appointments your FDAP buddy will explain what is expected of you. These modified assisted cases are a means by which we can tailor and narrow our assistance to the areas most needed.

Again, I want to emphasize that we are trying to draw a fine line between enough assistance and too much, and at times such a line will naturally be difficult to follow. Nonetheless, I am confident that FDAP can and will continue to provide you with sufficient assistance and support so that the clients remain well-served. The panel-project combination has been highly successful in ensuring that indigent appellants receive quality representation on appeal, and we will continue to work strenuously to maintain that ideal.


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