The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee was created in 1978 by the United States District Court under the authority of the Criminal Justice Act of 1964 (CJA), 18 U.S.C. § 3006A to provide legal representation to those persons accused of a crime against the United States who are financially unable to afford private counsel. Every person accused of a crime is entitled to the effective representation of counsel by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Office Status during COVID19
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Office of the Federal Defender in Middle Tennessee will continue to operate with fewer staff on site physically. The majority of our staff will work remotely during this time. We remain committed to providing the highest quality representation to our clients and serving as a resource to the bar and the community throughout this crisis.
During this time our attorneys, paralegals, investigators and support staff will ensure that our clients are zealously represented without interruption. Staff will be accessible by telephone and email. Please be patient as it might take a little longer to receive a message or coordinate a time for a phone call. For new arrests, attorneys will be on call to ensure that those arrested promptly appear before the court without delay.
On Friday March 13, 2020, the Bureau of Prisons announced a nationwide suspension of social and legal visiting at all BOP facilities. All of the jails where clients are held pretrial have eliminated in-person visitation for family or attorney visits, as well. In an effort to facilitate the ability to communicate with the outside world, the Bureau of Prisons has announced it will increase the monthly telephone allowance to 500 minutes from 300 minutes.
We understand that the suspension of social visiting is devastating not only for our incarcerated clients, but for their families as well. While we try to negotiate alternatives to the blanket cancellation of social visiting, we remain committed to providing family members of incarcerated clients with updates on their loved ones and conditions at BOP facilities.
The interruption of legal visitation directly impacts our ability to effectively represent our clients. We also recognize that during times when social visiting is suspended, those of you on the outside count on us to be your eyes and ears in the BOP facilities and to make sure that your loved ones remain safe. Thus, we are fighting to ensure that we can continue to communicate with our clients during this time. Given the declaration of the national emergency and how rapidly the response continues to change, we will continue to provide you with updated information as it becomes available.
Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee
The Plan for the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act adopted by the District Court and approved by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1978 provided that Criminal Justice Act representation in this district would be furnished by a Federal Public Defender and assistants and by a panel of private attorneys chosen for their expertise by a selection committee. The Office of the Federal Public Defender opened during the tenure of Chief District Judge L. Clure Morton with the swearing-in of William H. Farmer as the Federal Public Defender on February 10,1978. Bill Farmer headed a staff which included one Assistant Federal Public Defender, one Investigator and an Administrative Assistant/Secretary. The original CJA panel consisted of 34 lawyers. In the years since, first Judge Wiseman then Judge Nixon, Judge Echols, Judge Campbell, Judge Haynes, Judge Sharp and now Judge Crenshaw have served the District as Chief Judge. The Bail Reform Act, Sentencing Guidelines, minimum mandatory sentences, capital habeas litigation and sentencing reform have had an impact on those who provide defense representation.
The Office of the Federal Public Defender, headed by Henry A. Martin since 1985, includes 53 people in various job descriptions. The panel now consists of 56 lawyers and reserve, second chair and advisory panels. Two members of the panel have served since the original panel was selected. Since 1978 panel lawyers and the lawyers, investigators, paralegals and support staff of the defender office have represented thousands of people in cases ranging from petty offenses to death sentences, always striving to do so to the highest standards of the profession and consistent with the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 736-5047
Fax: (615) 736-5265