Application Process For New Attorneys
Panel Attorney Program Guide (PDF version)
|Purpose||The purpose of this program is to comply with California Code of Regulations Title 15, section 2256, which requires the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) to provide inmates with attorney representation at state expense if they cannot afford to retain a private attorney for a hearing before the Board.|
Panel attorneys serve at the discretion of the Board; they are not employees of the Board.
Upon approval as an active attorney by the Board, panel attorneys shall provide competent and professional legal services to their client. The Panel Attorney Program is designed to provide, on average, up to 13 clients who will be scheduled for a parole hearing during a one-week period.
|The Board has grouped the 35 existing adult prisons located throughout California including inmates assigned to the Sacramento Central Office (SACCO) into 16 attorney panels based on their geographic proximity (i.e., the prisons in each panel are generally within a one-hour drive of each other). The 16 attorney panels are identified on pages 8 and 9.|
Within each panel, two lists of attorneys will be maintained by the Board – a list of “active” attorneys and a list of “standby” attorneys. The active attorney list is for attorneys who are currently being assigned clients. The standby list is for attorneys who have applied to be on the active attorney list and who meet the minimum qualifications of a standby panel attorney, but who are not currently being assigned clients because the panel is full.
The Board shall periodically re-calculate the number of active attorneys needed for the panels based on the average number of hearings scheduled for each panel. The Board will adjust the number of active attorneys for each panel accordingly. If the average number of scheduled hearings decreases such that fewer active attorneys are needed for a particular panel, an active attorney will be moved to the standby list. If additional panel attorneys are needed, an attorney from the standby list will be moved to the active list.
Attorneys may apply for as many panels as they choose, but will only be approved to serve on one active panel at a time; with some limited exceptions at the discretion of the Board. An attorney may at any time request to be removed or added to another panel by writing the Board. An attorney on a standby list may at any time be moved to the active list.
|Active attorneys must meet the following minimum qualifications at all times:|
A1. Maintain a current and active license to practice law in California;
A2. Be in good standing with the California State Bar, including compliance with Rule 9.9.5 of the California Rules of Court;
A3. Maintain malpractice insurance;
A4. Have documentation of a symptom-free tuberculin skin test and evaluation within the past year;
A5. Be able to pass the security screening necessary for entrance into each of the prisons on the attorney’s panel;
A6. Meet the dress code requirements for entrance into each prison during every visit;
A7. Sign and submit the Panel Attorney Information and Certification Form annually (see page 10);
A8. Open and maintain an account with the Board’s Disability & Effective Communication System (DECS) (DECS is a comprehensive repository of information related to each inmate’s disabilities and effective communication needs);
A9. Acquire and maintain (at the attorney’s expense) all hardware/software necessary to access DECS;
A10. Open and maintain a Blackberry Workspaces (previously known as “WatchDox”) account (or equivalent secure, file-sharing software used by the Board) by registering an email address for access to electronic hearing files; panel attorneys are to provide at their own expense all hardware/software necessary to maintain access to the secure, file-sharing software used by the Board, and
A11. Have recent experience representing inmates in the parole suitability hearing process or have observed at least three parole hearings before accepting an assignment to represent clients as an active panel attorney.
|Standby attorneys must meet the following minimum qualifications at all times:|
B1. Maintain a current and active license to practice law in California; and
B2. Be in good standing with the California State Bar, including compliance with Rule 9.9.5 of the California Rules of Court.
Standby attorneys who are approved to move to an active panel attorney list will have one month to demonstrate compliance with the active panel attorney minimum qualifications listed above and complete required on-line training.
|C1. In addition to the minimum qualifications listed above, active panel attorneys must complete all required training session(s) conducted by the Board’s designee.|
|Panel Attorney Expectations||The following are minimum expectations for representing a client as an active panel attorney for hearings assigned and accepted on or after July 1, 2021 (majority of assignments are for hearings scheduled on and after December 6, 2021):|
D1. The panel attorney is required to conduct two to three hearing preparation meetings with their client, and comply with the timing requirements listed below. The panel attorney shall make every effort to conduct at least one hearing preparation meeting in person. In addition, the panel attorney is responsible for using whatever means necessary to establish effective
communication with their client during hearing preparation meetings, subject to the limitations detailed in D7. As such, hearing preparation meetings shall be conducted in person as necessary to establish effective communication. The Board will make a client’s central file available to the panel attorney at the time of case assignment, so the panel attorney has access prior to any and all client meetings;
D2. The panel attorney shall review their client’s central file and have an initial hearing preparation meeting with their client within 30 calendar days of accepting the case; the average length of the initial hearing preparation meeting shall be one to two hours; if the client is expected to receive a Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) prior to their scheduled hearing, the initial hearing preparation meeting shall be not less than two hours long and the panel attorney shall spend a minimum of one hour preparing their client for the CRA interview; in the unusual event a panel attorney is assigned a case less than 60 days before the hearing, the panel attorney shall review the client’s central file and conduct an initial hearing preparation meeting with their client as soon as possible. Preparing the client for a CRA interview may include explaining what a CRA is, its purpose, its importance, and how it is used in the parole hearing process; explaining the process, how the interview will be conducted, and topics that will likely be covered; discussing any prior risk assessments or psychological evaluations; and preparing the client to address potential topics of discussion during the interview;
D3. The panel attorney shall conduct at least one subsequent hearing preparation meeting with each client either (1) at least 60 days prior to the client’s scheduled hearing date or (2) within two weeks of the Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) being finalized under section 2240 of title 15 of the California Code of Regulations, whichever date is later; the average length of the required subsequent hearing preparation meeting shall be one to two hours; in the unusual event a panel attorney is assigned a case less than 60 days before the hearing, the panel attorney shall conduct this hearing preparation meeting before the hearing;
D4. The panel attorney must be familiar with each client’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and their needs for reasonable accommodations under the ADA in DECS in advance of each hearing preparation meeting; the attorney shall also document in DECS what accommodations, if any, were provided to the client during the attorney’s hearing preparation meetings with the client; a panel attorney shall document in DECS if no accommodations were necessary;
D5. If the panel attorney’s client is identified in DECS as needing a sign language interpreter, the panel attorney shall use a sign language interpreter when communicating with the client during hearing preparation meetings and at the hearing; panel attorney shall notify the Scheduling Unit at BPHLiferAnalyst@cdcr.ca.gov to make arrangements to secure a sign language interpreter if their client is in need of a sign language interpreter;
D6. The panel attorney shall use the Board’s telephonic foreign language interpreter service to communicate with a client during all hearing preparation meetings when needed to establish effective communication;
D7. The panel attorney shall not rely on written communications with a client (a) who is under CDCR’s Developmental Disability Program with a designation in DECS as DD1, DD2, or DD3, (b) under CDCR’s Mental Health Services Delivery System at the Enhanced Outpatient Program, Mental Health Crisis Bed, or Intermediate Care Facility level of care; (c) in a licensed Psychiatric Inpatient Program under the care of CDCR or the Department of State Hospitals; (d) designated as having a learning disability or vision impairment in DECS, or (e) has a Test of Adult Basic Education of 4.0 or lower;
D8. The panel attorney shall raise appropriate and timely objections through the BPH ADA Compliance Unit prior to a hearing or to the hearing panel at the hearing regarding the client’s need for reasonable accommodation under the ADA; the panel attorney may submit a timely grievance to the Board if the attorney believes the client did not receive reasonable accommodation as required under the ADA during the client’s hearing;
D9. If the panel attorney encounters logistical problems meeting and communicating with a client or obtaining access to relevant documents, including the CRA, the panel attorney shall immediately notify Board staff at BPHLiferAnalyst@cdcr.ca.gov and shall make all reasonable efforts to resolve the problem in advance of the hearing;
D10. While the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) follow state guidelines in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, all attorneys visiting a CDCR facility are required to comply with the institution COVID-19 procedures (including testing and wearing personal protective equipment);
D11. The panel attorney shall physically appear in person with their client for all scheduled hearings on or after Monday, December 6, 2021, unless any of the exceptions in D12 apply, and arrive one hour prior to the hearing if a COVID-19 test is required, allow sufficient time for parking, entry into the institution, walking to the hearing room; and, making prearrangements with the institution to meet with the client prior to the start time of the hearing. This provision does not apply if the client knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waives the physical appearance of the panel attorney;
D12. For all hearings, the panel attorney is required to be physically present with the client at the institution unless any of the following apply: (1) the client waives physical presence of the attorney, (2) the client waives their own right to attend the hearing, (3) the client refuses to attend the hearing, or (4) circumstances beyond the control of the panel attorney. Per the Armstrong Remedial Plan II, the following clients are not allowed to waive the physical presence of their attorney:
All clients presently receiving treatment at CDCR’s Mental Health Services Delivery System at the Enhanced Outpatient Program, Mental Health Crisis Bed, Intermediate Care Facility, or Acute Care Facility levels of care;
All clients identified by CDCR as part of the department’s Developmental Disability Program; and
All clients with a learning disability, including inmates with a Test of Adult Base Education (TABE) score of 4.0 or below.
D13. Per BPH RN 21-05E Proceedings Conducted in Person and by Videoconference Emergency Regulations, the Board shall determine whether a proceeding is conducted in person or by video conference. (Cal. Code of Regs, tit. 15, §§ 2050-2063.) For hearings that the board has pre-determined to require an in-person hearing under section 2054, the panel attorney, acting on behalf of the client, may submit a written request for a videoconference hearing at least 100 days prior to the hearing. The request shall explain why an in-person hearing is not necessary and affirm that, to the best knowledge of the panel attorney, an in-person proceeding is not necessary for the hearing officers to establish effective communication with the client. (Cal. Code of Regs, tit. 15, § 2055.) If the Board approves the request, the hearing will be conducted by videoconference. If the Board denies the request, the hearing will be conducted in person. The panel attorney is required to be physically present at the institution regardless of whether the hearing is held in person or by videoconference, absent an exception specified in D12;
D13. For hearings scheduled to occur on or after Monday, December 6, 2021, all waiver or postponement requests must meet the requirements outlined in California Code of Regulations, title 15, section 2253. A signature by the client for a waiver or postponement is no longer required on the BPH Form 1003. However, the panel attorney will still be required to sign the form and select any applicable attestations;
D14. The panel attorney shall remain available for the entire hearing day;
D15. If there is an emergency that delays or prevents a panel attorney from appearing timely for a hearing, the panel attorney shall immediately notify Board staff via email at BPHLiferAnalyst@cdcr.ca.gov or by phone at (916) 445-4072;
D16. The panel attorney shall have valid state or federal government-issued identification upon arrival to the institution; if the panel attorney experiences problems entering an institution on the day of a hearing, the attorney shall immediately notify Board staff via email at BPHLiferAnalyst@cdcr.ca.gov or by phone at (916) 445-4072;
D17. The panel attorney may be assigned a client currently housed outside a CDCR institution, (example: county jail, medical or out-of-state facility, etc.) but scheduled for a parole hearing. The panel attorney is required to contact the client and provide the client information regarding the parole hearing process and options for moving forward with the scheduled hearing.
D18. If, after the client’s scheduled hearing, the client’s case is referred for en banc review by the full Board at a monthly executive Board meeting, the panel attorney shall represent their client at the meeting by timely submitting a written statement and/or addressing the en banc panel at the meeting in person, by videoconference, or by telephone.
|Additional Panel Attorney Expectations|
The following are additional expectations for panel attorneys:
E1. The panel attorney shall behave in a competent and professional manner at all times with the client, Board staff, institution staff, and hearing participants;
E2. The panel attorney shall wear professional attire at parole hearings;
E3. The email address listed on the Panel Attorney Information and Certification Form (page 10) is the email of record for the attorney that will be used for all written communications from the Board, including panel and client assignments; it is the panel attorney’s responsibility to notify the Board of a change in the panel attorney’s email address;
E4. The panel attorney shall respond to an offer of a panel assignment from the Board within three business days; if the panel attorney declines the assignment or fails to respond within three business days, the Board will consider it a request for a voluntary suspension (see below).
E5. The panel attorney shall cooperate with the Board or its designee to verify compliance with panel attorney minimum qualifications, expectations, and training requirements;
E6. The panel attorney shall not permit another attorney, including other panel attorneys, to represent a client assigned by the Board to the panel attorney;
E7. The panel attorney shall promptly notify the Board if the panel attorney is arrested, charged, or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in any jurisdiction;
E8. The panel attorney shall submit invoices as required for all clients assigned by the Board.
|Confidentiality Agreement||A panel attorney is legally and ethically bound to use the information contained in any documents provided by the Board for the sole purpose of representing their client through the parole suitability hearing process. A panel attorney is prohibited from distributing the documents or disclosing their contents to anyone who is not directly involved in representing the panel attorney’s client in the parole suitability hearing process. Failure to protect the confidentiality of documents received from the Board will result in the panel attorney being referred to the Executive Officer to determine whether the panel attorney will continue to be assigned cases.|
|Referrals to Executive Officer||Failure to meet any of the minimum panel attorney qualifications, expectations, or training requirements shall result in referral to the Executive Officer to determine whether the panel attorney will continue to be assigned cases.|
The Board and/or its designee may collect data concerning the outcome of scheduled hearings, use surveys, interview clients and others, observe hearings, and review hearing transcripts to determine the level and quality of representation provided by a panel attorney.
A panel attorney who is (a) referred to the California State Bar for alleged misconduct by any state or federal judge or the Board’s Chief Counsel or (b) arrested, charged or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony shall be referred to the Executive Officer to determine whether the panel attorney will continue to be assigned cases.
|Voluntary Suspension||A voluntary suspension is a request by an active panel attorney to not be assigned cases for a period of one to four weeks. A panel attorney may request a voluntary suspension no more than three times during a calendar year (January 1 through December 31). Requests for a voluntary suspension from a panel attorney must be submitted in writing and include a specific start and end date. In addition, if a panel attorney declines the assignment of a panel or fails to respond within three business days to a panel assignment, the Board will consider it a request for a one-week voluntary suspension (see E4 above).|
|Payment||All panel attorney payments must be requested using the Board’s Panel Attorney Invoice, available on the Board’s website at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/bph/attorney-overview/ (see BPH form 1076). Panel attorneys shall scan and submit one invoice per assigned client via email to BPHAccountingLiaison@cdcr.ca.gov. Incomplete invoices will not be processed.|
Panel attorneys shall certify the services they rendered to each assigned client by placing their initials next to the appropriate “Description of Services Performed.” Panel attorneys shall also identify dates of completion and duration of interviews.
Panel attorneys will be paid a flat rate of $900 for each client assigned by the Board and accepted by the panel attorney between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, whose case they complete. For all hearings assigned by the Board and accepted by the panel attorney prior to June 30, 2021, panel attorneys will be paid a flat rate of $750 for each client assigned by the Board and accepted by the panel attorney whose case they complete. For purposes of submitting an invoice and receiving payment, a case is complete when a scheduled hearing results in a waiver, stipulation, postponement, continuance, grant of parole or denial of parole. Panel attorneys who are unable to represent their assigned client through completion of the case may receive a pro-rated fee for services at the discretion of the Executive Officer or designee.
Invoices shall not be submitted until the client’s case is completed.
In order to ensure timely payment, invoices shall be submitted within six months of completing all hearing-related work for a client.
Mail or email to the following contact:
Board of Parole Hearings
Attn: Scheduling Unit: Panel Attorney Appointments
P.O. Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036