Page 142 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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tive history establish that attorneys who provide services under the Act are entitled to receive payment for all time expended that is reasonable and necessary for the representation. The practice of cutting vouchers as a means of imposing an addi- tional pro bono obligation upon panel attorneys is not consistent with the language or the spirit of the Act.
Refusal to Pay for Certain Types of Work
In certain districts and/or circuits, classes of otherwise compensable work are excluded from payment, resulting in substantial cuts to payments. These disfavored expenses include client meetings, travel time, and discovery review.
Client “Hand-Holding”
Time spent meeting with clients has been the subject of particular scrutiny. Multiple meetings with clients are sometimes derisively labeled as “hand-holding,” for which judges refuse to approve payment. But building a trusting relationship with clients is one of the most important tasks of a defense attorney. As one panel attorney said:
I have had success in settling those cases which should be settled pre- cisely because I spend the time to get to know my clients, to listen to what they have to say and to discuss the evidence with them. At that point, when they believe that I’ve listened to them, it’s much easier for them to accept my statement, “Dude, don’t go to trial; you’re going to get killed!” But you have to put in the time. I don’t think it’s hand-holding, I think it’s an essential part of providing adequate defense to my clients, and I think, ultimately, it saves a bundle of money.416
Another panel attorney practicing in a circuit where the former chief judge had announced that multiple client visits were unnecessary came to the same conclu- sion: In the federal system where “most cases result in a plea, the only way that’s going to happen is if your client trusts you as a lawyer, and that requires face time, not only to be an effective advocate for your client, to know who that person is, but for your client to trust you.”417
Even when judges approve payment for client visits, they often decline to pay for time spent meeting with a client’s family. In some districts, communications that do not directly advance the client’s case (as for example by arranging bond or obtaining sentencing letters) are considered non-compensable.418 This is so even though an attorney who does not establish a cooperative relationship with a client’s family will have a difficult—and more time-consuming—job arranging for bond or
416 DebraDiIorio,CJAPanelAtty.,C.D.Cal.PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel3,Tr.at13.
417 RobertRichman,BoardMember,Minn.Assoc.ofCriminalDefenseAttorneys,PublicHearing— Minneapolis, Minn., Panel 4, Tr. at 19.
418 Id.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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 the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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