Page 145 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 discovery,” the attorney could have significantly reduced the time spent on discov- ery review.430 But asking the government what the defendant did or reviewing “tar- geted discovery” is only a starting point to a full understanding of the defects in the government’s case and any possible defenses.
A federal defender explained that judges are often unaware of the amount of discovery work involved.
I think in the past judges could be fairly confident by looking at the docket sheet or recalling what happened in court to get a general sense of how complex the case was and what type of work went into the defense of the case. Because of the change in our practice, I don’t think that’s
any longer the case....[There is] a great amount of discovery that has to be reviewed even if there is not a trial....You need to do a substantial amount of work that’s unknown to the district court judge.431
A district judge told the Committee that in her experience some judges cut vouchers based on “sticker-shock.” “They just believe that the cost for the defense in the case . . . is just too big.”432 This problem occurs most in cases resolved by plea. One attorney indicated that the judges in his district reflexively cut vouch- ers to the case maximum when the case was resolved through a plea as opposed to a trial.433 Of course, it is often only after a thorough review of discovery that a decision can be made, by both client and attorney, that resolving the case through a plea is the best course.
5.2.5 Voucher Cuts Based on Generalizing or Averaging Case Costs
Faced with voucher reviews, a task for which they have inadequate time and training, some judges use shortcuts such as benchmarks or averaging. Some set compensa- tion amounts for different types of cases. For example, a case that involves a felon in possession of a firearm should cost “X.” Such benchmarks are often informal; a judge’s belief about what that type of case “should” cost. As one federal defender explained:
I saw a case recently where the case had a lengthy suppression hearing. The government insisted they would not give a plea agreement that preserved the issue. They went almost to trial. Finally the government backed down... It was around a $20,000 voucher. The judge just looked at it with no expla- nation, said, “This is a run-of-the-mill case. I’m only giving $7,000.”434
430 Id.
431 MichaelCaruso,FPD,S.D.Fla.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel1,Tr.at31.
432 JudgeCathyBissoon,W.D.Pa.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel2a,Tr.at13.
433 MarkFoster,CJAPanelAtty.Dist.Rep.,W.D.N.C.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel6,Writ.Test.at2. 434 EricVos,FPD,D.P.R.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel1,Tr.at29.
No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7 R E P O R T O F T H E A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T 101
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.
 



















































































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