District of Minnesota
After the enactment of legislation allowing the creation of Federal Defender and Community Defender offices in 1970, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, in 1971, set up a Criminal Justice Act panel to provide representation for persons eligible for appointment under the Criminal Justice Act of 1964. In May 1972 the Court approved the establishment of a Community Defender Organization in the District of Minnesota. Peter J. Thompson was the first Community Defender. His role was to manage the Criminal Justice Act panel and accept CJA appointments as part of his private practice.
Mr. Thompson continued as the Community Defender for 2 years and then in 1975 attorney Thomas M. Kelly succeeded him. Mr. Kelly's role was the same as his predecessor's.
In the Fall of 1977, Theodore Lidz, from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, met with the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Apparently Minnesota’s practice of having a part-time attorney directing the Community Defender Organization was unique. After that meeting the District Court made a decision to move to a full-time Federal Defender organization and cease operations of the Community Defender organization. Daniel M. Scott was selected to be the first Federal Defender. The Office of the Federal Defender for the District of Minnesota began operation on August 14, 1978.
Initially, Mr. Scott was the sole full-time attorney. A significant part of his job as Federal Defender was panel management. In an “Order to Facilitate the Criminal Justice Act Plan”, adopted in 1978, the Court directed the Federal Defender to manage the CJA panel and make suggestions to the Court concerning panel appointments. That close cooperation between the panel and the Federal Defender has continued to this day. The Office of the Federal Defender coordinates with the Court on all appointments of counsel, manages on behalf of the Court the selection of new CJA panel members in conjunction with a committee chosen by the CJA panel representative, and reviews all funding requests for both panel attorneys and expert/investigators prior to submission to the Court for payment. The Office also conducts regular panel training and administers a Second Chair/Mentor Program (in conjunction with the District Court). Every effort is made by the Federal Defender to provide panel attorneys with any assistance or resources needed to provide the best representation to their CJA clients.
An office that began with one employee in 1978 has now grown to be a staff of twenty-one. The staff consists of the Federal Defender, eight Assistant Federal Defenders, two Research and Writing Attorneys, three Investigators, three administrators, three legal assistants, and one computer systems administrator.
In July of 2005, Daniel Scott retired from his position as Federal Defender following 27 years of service. In March of 2006, Hennepin County District Court Judge Katherian D. Roe, a former Assistant Federal Defender for twelve years, was sworn in as the new Federal Defender.
Under the leadership of Daniel Scott and Katherian Roe, the Office of the Federal Defender, District of Minnesota, has established a reputation as one of the best law offices in Minnesota for effective representation in the area of Federal criminal defense.