Page 141 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 bill submitted by a particular attorney in a particular case. These may result in inap- propriate cuts to vouchers. However, panel attorneys also find that a presiding judge may decline to approve payment for their services not because that judge has deter- mined that hours were not worked, or were excessive for the tasks accomplished,
or that services provided were not reasonable. Instead, panel attorneys regularly see their compensation reduced for reasons unrelated to any evaluation of the work they have done on a particular case. The reasons for these cuts vary, but none are consistent with the requirements of the CJA.
“Pro Bono” Voucher Cuts
A number of circuits and districts regularly cut vouchers with the explanation that CJA representation is part of an attorney’s pro bono obligation and therefore coun- sel should not expect to receive full payment for hours expended.
One federal defender who manages his panel testified that during a set period of time he reviewed 131 excess compensation vouchers from his district and deter- mined that 30 percent of those vouchers had been reduced by the circuit court. In each case, the district court had already reviewed the vouchers, determined that they were reasonable, and authorized full payment. The reason given by the cir-
cuit for reduction, in almost every case, was that CJA representation is a form of
pro bono work, and as such, attorneys are not entitled to and should not expect full compensation.413 One attorney described this type of reduction as “systematically reducing the ‘real’ hourly rate” of CJA work. He noted that while hourly rates had slowly increased over the years, voucher cuts which resulted in less than full pay- ment for the services provided essentially negated those rate increases. For panel attorneys, these voucher cuts convey the message: “...we want you to zealously rep- resent your client but we are not going to pay you for it.”414
When Congress passed the CJA, it considered attorneys’ professional obliga- tion to provide pro bono services and accounted for it with an hourly rate below market levels.415 Both the plain language of the Criminal Justice Act and the legisla-
413 DavidStickman,FPD,D.Neb.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis,Minn.,Panel2,Tr.atp.25.See Appendix F: Chart of 8th Circuit Voucher Cuts.
414 RobertRichman,BoardMember,Minn.Assoc.ofCriminalDefenseAttorneys,Public Hearing—Minneapolis, Minn., Panel 4, Tr. at 3.
415 TheDefenderServicesCommitteeadoptedthefollowingresolutioninJune1990:
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution places upon the government the obligation to provide, at its expense, effective assistance of counsel to persons financially unable to secure their own legal representation. Pro bono legal services have been an outstanding contribution
of the legal profession to our society and have greatly assisted the government in providing
these constitutionally mandated services. The complexities of modern criminal litigation and
the economics of practice, however, make it fundamentally unfair to expect lawyers to perform increasingly burdensome work for which they are inadequately compensated. It is the sense of the Committee that equal access to justice is impaired when, for those with limited financial resources, that access depends upon mandatory pro bono legal services. Reported to the JCUS in September 1990 at CR-DEFSVS-SEP 90, pg. 20.
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 97
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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