Page 150 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 150

in a plea in a CJA representation. Panel attorneys received clear feedback from
the district court judges that regardless of the reasonableness of their work, they needed to reduce their own vouchers to $3,500 or less. When one panel attor-
ney submitted a voucher for more, he told the Committee, “The judge called
me personally . . . and the reason was not that I had billed them too much for
the work. . . . It was that the other attorneys on the panel were submitting $3,500 vouchers and it was just not fair for me to submit excess vouchers if they were cut- ting their vouchers. . . . After that I did cut my vouchers . . .”450 In another district, “one of the judges had a meeting with the entire CJA panel [and] suggested that the size of CJA attorneys’ bills could be a factor that would be considered in decid- ing whether or not they should be reappointed to the panel.”451 This message was not lost on panel members.452
Do you bill for all the time you or other members of your defense team (lawyers, paralegals, investigators, and other experts) spend on a CJA appointment?
              106 2 0 1 7
Source: CJA Review Committee Survey on Vouchers (June 2016), available at
Self-cutting exacerbates the problems already discussed. It hides the true
cost of the defense from judges and leads them to misunderstand what a zealous defense of an individual requires. This in turn can lead a judge to consider appropri- ate billing unreasonable. As one lawyer explained, “I worry that judges think that a robbery can always be done underneath the statutory maximum because there are so many people who are just billing under that to avoid making waves.” 453
And self-cutting can discourage advocacy as effectively as judicial cuts. Attorneys who must reduce their own bills will soon learn that it is against their financial interest to be so thorough in their work. One attorney admitted that he found himself second-guessing whether he should prepare a document on behalf of his client because the court might think it was not a reasonable expense. “It
450 LeRoyPercy,CJAPanelAtty.,N.D.Miss.,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala.,Panel7,Tr.at23.
451 MiriamConrad,FPD,D.Mass.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel3,Tr.at2.
452 Id.
453 TeresaDuncan,NewMexicoCriminalDefenseLawyersAssociation,PublicHearing—SantaFe, NM, Panel 4, Tr. at 25.
No recommendation presented herein represents 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 the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.
I always bill for all of the work done
I usually bill for all of the work done
I sometimes bill for all of the work done
I rarely bill for all of the work done
I never bill for all of the work done
0% 10%
23.95% 15.60%
20% 30%
40% 50%

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