Page 157 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 157

 5.4.2 Delays in Payment
Except in long and complex cases, the CJA compensation system requires that an attorney complete the representation before submitting a voucher for payment.
Yet when a case is of any substantial duration, this can impose a financial hardship on the attorney. This is a particular problem for new attorneys building a practice because “most cases stretch out over months during which the attorney must wait for compensation while absorbing not only general office overhead but also case specific expenses.”484 When payment of the voucher is substantially delayed further hardship results. And delays in payment discourage attorneys from accepting CJA cases.
As in all voucher matters, the timeliness of reimbursement varies among dis- tricts and judges. A panel attorney who takes appointments in two different dis- tricts explained that in one district where “vouchers are reviewed first by the CJA Administrator for completeness and reasonableness and then submitted to the dis- trict court for approval,” vouchers are generally paid in “as quickly as two weeks.”485 In the second district in which she practices, however, “the turnaround time for pay- ment has been six to eight weeks.”486 There are judges within districts, the Committee was told, that are timely while their colleagues in the same district are not. A panel attorney wrote to the Committee about the considerable delay in processing vouch- ers in his district, noting that payment takes an average of two to three months, and if circuit court review is required, the process takes at least six months.487
In some districts, the delay in payment is the most significant concern among panel attorneys. “Our biggest problem with vouchers is the delay that some panel members experience in receiving the fee.”488 One panel attorney told the Committee that even in one district which is very supportive of the defense function and does not suffer from unwarranted voucher cutting, the various ways that payment on CJA cases is delayed is a hardship.489 A defender told the Committee that in the district where he practices, “Criminal cases move quickly. Deadlines are strictly enforced. Yet at the end of the case, vouchers often languish on judges’ desks.”490
As suggested above, when a voucher requires circuit court review, the delay can be considerably longer. Since claiming excess compensation requires circuit court review, panel attorneys must balance the need to receive payment soon
484 WendyHolton,CJAPanelAtty.,D.Mont.,PublicHearing—Portland,Or.,Panel4,Writ.Test.at4.
485 MelanieMorgan,CJAPanelAtty.Dist.Rep.,D.Kan.&W.D.Mo.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,NM, Panel 5, Writ. Test. at 2.
486 Id.
487 RodPersonius,CJAPanelAtty.Dist.Rep.,W.D.N.Y.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel4, Writ. Test. at 8.
488 LisaCostner,CJAPanelAtty.,Dist.Rep.,M.D.N.C.,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala.,Panel7,Writ. Test. at 2 (“I am hopeful that e-voucher, which has just been implemented, will resolve this issue.”).
489 JenniferHorwitz,CJAPanelAtty.Dist.Rep.,W.D.Wash.,PublicHearing—Portland,Or.,Panel5, Tr. at 20-21.
490 StephenMcCue,FPD,D.N.M.PublicHearing—SantaFe,NM,Panel2,Writ.Test.at5.
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 113
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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