Frequently Asked Questions

► How do I find out who my attorney is?

► Calling Our Office

► Attorney-Client Privilege & Release of Information to Family/Friends

► What does it mean when I call the office but my attorney is not available?

► When is my attorney coming to see me?

► What is the difference between a CJA panel attorney and an assistant federal public defender?

► How do I figure out which judge is handling my case?

► Detention Pending Trial

► Court Appearances & Family/Friends Attending Court Hearings

► Client Property

► Where Individuals Serve Their Sentences

► Supervised Release and Violations

 

► How do I find out who my attorney is?

Each day we have a duty attorney in both our Baltimore and Greenbelt offices who meet with individuals needing appointment of counsel.  The duty attorney handles any initial appearances scheduled that day and, if necessary, detention hearings scheduled for the clients whose initial appearances occur on the duty attorney’s duty day.  After the detention hearing, the case is assigned to the attorney who will handle the case until its conclusion in the District Court.  Often a case is assigned to the attorney who handled the initial appearance and detention hearing, but sometimes the case is assigned to another attorney.  It can take up to a week after the initial appearance or detention hearing for an attorney to be assigned to a case.  Once the case is assigned to an attorney, the client’s name is entered into our computer system and our receptionists in Baltimore and Greenbelt will be able to tell you who your attorney is.

We have appellate attorneys in our office who primarily handle appeals.  If you appeal your case, usually an appellate attorney will take over your case.

► Calling Our Office

Our office operates out of two locations: Baltimore and Greenbelt.  To reach an attorney or investigator in Baltimore, the phone number is (410) 962-3962.  To reach an attorney or investigator in Greenbelt, the phone number is (301) 344-0600.   If you are calling from a jail or detention facility, please use our toll-free number so that you do not have to pay for the call.  The toll-free number for our Baltimore Office is (855) 213-8450 and for our Greenbelt Office is (888) 387-3384.  Someone answers our phones Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The government records all phone calls made from jails and detention facilities, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office often obtains the recordings of a defendant’s jail calls and can use the calls as evidence against the defendant.  The prosecutors are not supposed to listen to calls made by clients to their lawyers.  So that the prosecutors do not listen to the calls made to an attorney, incarcerated individuals must dial our office directly at one of the phone numbers above.  If a friend or family member calls the attorney on a three-way call with the client, the prosecutors can listen to the call and nothing said on the call is privileged.  Please do not call our office from a detention center by having a friend or family member make a three-way call.

► Attorney-Client Privilege & Release of Information to Family/Friends

The Federal Public Defender's office is bound by the attorney-client privilege. This privilege keeps communications between a client and his or her attorney confidential. With a few limited exceptions, the attorney will not share privileged information with others outside the office. The policy underlying this privilege is to encourage open and honest communication between clients and attorneys.

Do not talk to anyone about your case without first discussing the matter with your attorney. You may discuss anything concerning your case with your attorney because these matters are recognized as confidential. This confidential privilege extends only to discussions between you and your attorney and your attorney’s staff. Anything you tell your family, friends, and others such as cellmates, is NOT confidential and the court can compel those people to testify about what you said.

Under the attorney-client privilege, our office is not allowed to discuss particulars of any client’s case with their family or friends unless the client directs the attorney to do so. If a family member or friend needs court dates, court times, or assigned courtroom, we may provide that information if it is not harmful to the client.

► What does it mean when I call the office but my attorney is not available?

Our attorneys spend many hours each week in court and/or visiting clients in local detention facilities.  Even when our attorneys are in the office, they are not always available to speak with clients by phone because they are in meetings or on other calls.  If your attorney is not available to speak with you when you call, please ask to leave a voicemail message and leave a message for your attorney.

► When is my attorney coming to see me?

Each attorney makes his or her own schedule, and the receptionist often does not know when an attorney is planning to see a particular client.  If you would like to see your attorney, please leave a voicemail message for your attorney asking him or her to come and visit you.  If your request is urgent, please indicate in your message that you need to see your attorney soon and briefly explain why the visit is urgently needed.

► What is the difference between a CJA panel attorney and an assistant federal public defender?

In 1964, the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) was enacted to establish a comprehensive system for appointing and compensating lawyers to represent defendants financially unable to retain counsel in federal criminal proceedings.  The CJA authorized reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses and payment of expert and investigative services necessary for an adequate defense.  Federal defender organizations, together with the more than 10,000 private “panel attorneys” who accept CJA assignments annually, represent the vast majority of individuals who are prosecuted in our nation’s federal courts.

The court appoints the Office of the Federal Public Defender to represent everyone in need of appointed counsel unless a conflict of interest exists between a defendant and our office’s current or past clients.  For example, the court cannot appoint the Office of the Federal Public Defender to represent more than one defendant charged in a multi-defendant indictment because those defendants’ interests conflict.  When the Office of the Federal Public Defender has a conflict of interest with representing an individual in need of appointed counsel, the court appoints a private attorney from the court’s CJA panel to represent the individual.  The U.S. District Court’s CJA Coordinating Attorney, Maureen Essex, assigns cases to the CJA panel.  Individuals do not get to choose which panel attorney is appointed to represent them.

► How do I figure out which judge is handling my case?

Initial appearances, detention hearings, and arraignments for felony offenses and almost all misdemeanor matters are heard by the U.S. Magistrate Judge assigned to the docket for that given day or week.  In felony cases, a U.S. District Court judge is assigned to every case to handle motions hearings, guilty plea hearings, trials and sentencings.  Each case number includes the initials of the assigned judge.

Baltimore District Court Judges
JKB = Chief Judge James K. Bredar
RDB = Judge Richard D. Bennett
CCB = Judge Catherine C. Blake
MJG = Senior Judge Marvin J. Garbis
ELH = Judge Ellen L. Hollander
JFM = Senior Judge J. Frederick Motz
GLR = Judge George L. Russell, III

Greenbelt District Court Judges
DKC = Senior Judge Deborah K. Chasanow
TDC = Judge Theodore D. Chuang
PWG = Judge Paul W. Grimm
GJH = Judge George J. Hazel
PJM = Senior Judge Peter J. Messitte
RWT = Senior Judge Roger W. Titus
PX = Judge Paula Xinis

Baltimore Magistrate Judges
BPG = Chief Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner
CBA = Judge C. Bruce Anderson
ADC = Judge A. David Copperthite
JMC = Judge J. Mark Coulson
SAG = Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher
SKG = Judge Susan K. Gauvey

Greenbelt Magistrate Judges
CBD = Judge Charles B. Day
TMD = Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo
JKS = Judge Jillyn K. Schulze
GLS = Judge Gina L. Simms
TJS = Judge Timothy J. Sullivan


► Detention Pending Trial

Many defendants are held in a detention facility while their federal charges are pending.  Individuals detained solely because of their federal criminal charges are held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  The U.S. Marshals Service houses defendants at several state and local detention facilities throughout Maryland and, on some occasions, in Washington, D.C., and Virginia.  However, the majority of federal inmates are housed at:

Chesapeake Detention Facility
401 East Madison Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 539-5445

Before visiting the institution, call ahead to make sure the person you want to see is there and what his/her visiting days and hours are.  The facility requires people to provide a thumbprint to enter the facility.  You may be turned away the first time you attempt to enter the institution, but you should receive a letter a week or two later giving you approval to enter the facility.  To avoid being turned away, you can call the facility and ask what information you need to provide in advance of your visit to get pre-approved to enter the facility.

► Court Appearances & Family/Friends Attending Court Hearings

If you are incarcerated, the U.S. Marshals Service must transport you to court for appearances.  If you are on release status, including at a half-way house or inpatient residential treatment program, it is your responsibility to make sure you get to court on time.  If you have any questions about when and where you are supposed to be for court, please contact your attorney.

Family members and friends can attend almost all court proceedings.  Those attending must turn off cell phones and pagers.  The judges permit children in the courtroom, but if children are making too much noise, the judge will ask an adult to take the children outside the courtroom.

The U.S. Marshals do not allow defendants who are detained to have physical contact with their friends or family in the courtroom.  The Marshals do not allow detained individuals to visit with friends or family in the courthouse lock-up either.

► Client Property

As a general rule, we do not take custody of client property.  We are not staffed or equipped to do so, and we cannot accept the risk and exposure to liability that comes with receiving client property.  Clients should have their property sent to their families or friends.

► Where Individuals Serve Their Sentences

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) determines where individuals will serve their sentences.  Individuals with short sentences may serve their sentences at the local detention facility.  Most individuals will be sent to a Bureau of Prisons facility.  Information on BOP facilities, where to send mail/packages and money, and how to arrange a visit at a BOP facility is available online at www.bop.gov.  The BOP’s policies for determining where an individual is designated are available here.

► Supervised Release and Violations

Almost every federal offense carries with it a term of supervised release.  Supervised release is like probation: a defendant must regularly report to the U.S. Probation Office and often must submit to drug testing and other conditions imposed by the Court.  Sometimes a probation officer will ask an individual to agree to additional conditions of supervised release not previously imposed by the judge.  If an individual does not feel comfortable with the probation officer’s request to modify the conditions of supervised release, the individual should contact our office and speak with either his or her prior attorney or our duty attorney.

If a probation officer believes an individual has violated his supervised release, the probation officer can petition the Court to issue either an arrest warrant or a summons for the individual.  Those accused of violating supervised release are entitled to an initial appearance, at which they are notified of the alleged violations and can request appointment of counsel.  The individual is also entitled to a detention hearing if the prosecutor is seeking the individual’s detention before the violation of supervised release hearing.  The violation of supervised release hearing is usually held in front of the judge who placed the individual on supervised release unless the judge has retired.

A defendant has fewer rights at revocation of supervised release hearings than when an individual faces substantive federal charges.  For example, at a revocation hearing, the individual is not entitled to a jury and the prosecutor only has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual violated supervised release.  While the individual retains the right to cross-examine any witnesses called by the prosecutor, and the defendant can call witnesses on his behalf, hearsay is admissible so often the prosecutor calls the probation officer as the sole witness.