About Us
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.

The Plan for the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act adopted by the District Court 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, and now Judge Campbell have served the District as Chief Judge. The Bail Reform Act, Sentencing Guidelines, minimum mandatory sentences and the Booker revolution have had an impact on those who provide defense representation. The office of the Federal Public Defender, now headed by Henry Martin, includes 53 people in 14 job descriptions. The panel now consists of 65 lawyers and a second chair panel of 30 lawyers. Four members of the panel have served since the original panel was selected. Almost 13,000 people have been represented by federal defenders and panel lawyers since 1978.