Updated at 5:10 p.m.
Depending on which side of John Marshall Memorial Park in downtown Washington criminal defense lawyers practice, the budget cuts known as sequestration could mean a pinch to the bottom line at the end of the summer—or nothing at all.
Private lawyers who are paid under the Criminal Justice Act to represent indigent defendants in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia could go for weeks without pay this summer. The word down the street at the District of Columbia Superior Court has been cheerier. Court officials don't expect to cut CJA attorney pay, with the caveat that circumstances could change if, for instance, crime rates suddenly skyrocketed.
As officials in both courts grapple with the effects of sequestration between now and the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, members of the CJA panels say they're waiting for official word.