Becoming a CJA Panel Member

The application for CJA Panel Selection Appointments is now closed. It will reopen in March 2019.

Important Information For New and Prospective Panel Members

The Criminal Justice Act Panel is a group of qualified and court-approved attorneys who are eligible for appointment by the Court to represent individuals in criminal cases who are unable for financial reasons to retain counsel. The appointments are made by the Court on a rotating basis among members of the panel.

 All applicants must have their principal place of business within the appropriate venue of the Northern District of California. For the San Jose venue, this includes the counties of Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. For San Francisco/Oakland, this includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma. 

Applicants must have demonstrated experience in, and knowledge of, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and, in the absence of unusual circumstances, shall have the following qualifications:

  • At least 5 years criminal practice in state or federal court, or 3 years of experience as an Assistant United States Attorney or Assistant Federal Public Defender.
  • In the case of the trial panels, 5 federal or state felony jury trials or any combination thereof. Any panel member who has not tried two federal criminal jury trials must audit two pretrial proceedings including motions hearings, two sentencing hearings and two jury trials in federal criminal cases pursuant to the mentor program established under this plan or its equivalent before being appointed to a case.
  • In the case of the appellate panel, 10 federal or state felony appeals or combination thereof. Five of the required appeals may be replaced with equivalent experience such as criminal trials, habeas corpus proceedings, or complex criminal or civil matters settled short of trial.

Please note that all panel members are required to attend 5 hours per year of continuing legal education in federal criminal practice. The Federal Public Defender's Office and the CJA Unit offer many opportunities throughout the year to fulfill this requirement. See General Order 2, XI.C