Page 158 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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against the need to receive excess compensation.
If a panel attorney questions a reduction in a voucher at the district or circuit
level, that is also likely to delay payment. One panel attorney testified that while there is already a lengthy wait time for vouchers to be approved, “any complaint or resis- tance to cuts is met with further delay. The prospect of weeks, and sometimes months, being tacked onto an already-protracted process is an obvious deterrent for attorneys to object to the cuts.”491 The result is that attorneys are effectively discouraged from challenging cuts even when they believe those cuts are unwarranted. As noted above, delayed payments affect the ability and willingness of quality attorneys to accept CJA appointments. It is unfair to delay paying attorneys and unreasonable to expect judges to expediently process vouchers given all of their other responsibilities.
5.4.3 Interim Vouchers to Facilitate Payment
As noted above, judiciary conference policy provides a mechanism for attorneys handling extended and complex cases to seek payments at fixed intervals prior to the conclusion of a case to avoid financial hardship.492 An attorney must apply and receive approval from the presiding judge to do so. This allows panel attorneys to take on extended and complex representations without facing severe financial hard- ship. The policy is not a requirement that interim payments be allowed, and in prac- tice the ability to obtain approval to be paid throughout the course of a case varies by district and among judges within a district.493
In some districts, approval of interim payments is automatic. Once a case is determined to be “extended or complex,” meaning that the costs of representation are likely to exceed the case maximum, or another locally determined threshold
is met, interim vouchers are instituted as a matter of course. For instance, “in the District of Kansas, interim vouchers are authorized by local rule every two months” once a representation has reached $2,000.494 A panel attorney who practiced in the District of New Mexico testified that “anytime it’s declared a complex case, when the judge signs that order...interim payments will be allowed.”495 This is also true in the Northern District of California, where the CJA Supervisory Attorney told the Committee, “We require counsel in all mega-cases to submit case budgets every six months and interim vouchers every 60 days.”496 And in one of the largest districts in
491 RachelBrill,CJAPanelAtty,D.P.R.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel6,Writ.Test.at2.
492 GuidetoJudiciaryPolicy,Vol.7A,Ch.2,§230.73:“Whereitisconsiderednecessaryandappropriate in a specific case the presiding trial judge may arrange for periodic or interim payments to counsel.”
493 EdwardHunt,CJAPanelAtty.,E.D.Wis.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis,Minn.,Panel4,Tr.at14.
494 MelanieMorgan,CJAPanelAtty.Dist.Rep.,D.Kan.&W.D.Mo.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,NM, Panel 5, Writ. Test. at 2.
495 CoriHarbour-Valdez,CJAPanelAtty.,W.D.Tex.&D.N.M.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,NM,Panel 5, Tr. at 34.
496 DianaWeiss,CJASupervisingAtty.,N.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel1,Writ. Test. at 2.
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.

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