Page 159 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 159

 the country, the Central District of California, every panel attorney, even for smaller representations, uses an interim vouchering system.497
Where interim voucher payments are approved and used, the Committee heard positive feedback from panel attorneys. One panel attorney testified that his vouchers were generally approved and paid every four to six weeks. “The judge was trying the case, as well as reviewing vouchers... [but] it worked well.”498 Although interim vouchers “increase the number of vouchers to process,” a case budget-
ing attorney told the Committee, “we have found that judges and CJA staff find it easier to audit for technical compliance and reasonableness when the vouchers are shorter in page count and closer in time to when the services were provided.”499 This was confirmed by an assistant federal public defender, who testified that, “In com- plex cases, some of the judges will require interim vouchers to be submitted every 30 days or 60 days to keep a handle on [the case] and that seems to help.”500 The process benefits the judges by allowing them to avoid having to review months, or years of voucher entries in one voucher, and it benefits the attorneys because it pro- vides them with some compensation during the time the case is pending.
Some districts, however, rarely approve interim payments.501 In one such district, the Committee was told that it was not uncommon for panel attorneys to experience significant financial losses from extended CJA representations. One panel attorney reported that his representation in an extended case was financially “devas- tating.”502 He testified that he, “finally had to be placed in the embarrassing position of informing the judge, your Honor, I need this payment because at this point I’ve run out of all of the reserves. I’ve been borrowing money to keep up with this case.”503
Despite the benefits of interim vouchers, panel lawyers are reluctant to avail themselves of this option because they fear providing detailed information to the presiding judge during a case. These panel attorneys found the detail required to be “too intrusive” and were concerned it might “compromise the work product privi- lege and invade the independence of the lawyer to develop a defense for the client while worrying whether the judge will approve payment for the exploration of that defense.”504 Unfortunately, because the current structure requires judicial review of requests for interim vouchers, panel attorneys must balance their financial needs against the risk of disclosing client information and defense strategy to the court
497 JudgeVirginiaPhillips,C.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel5,Writ.Test.at10. 498 JimAyers,CJAPanelAtty.,E.D.N.C.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel5,Tr.at36.
499 KristineFox,CaseBudgetingAtty.,9thCir.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel1,Writ. Test. at 3.
500 FredHeblich,Jr.AssistantFPD,W.D.Va.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel6,Tr.at28. 501 JudgeAidaDelgado-Colon,D.P.R.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel3,Tr.at34.
502 JuanMilanes,CJAPanelAtty.,E.D.Va.andD.P.R.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel4,Tr.at7. 503 Id.
504 RochelleReback,FormerCJAPanelAtty.,M.D.Fla.,PublicHearing—Miami,Fla.,Panel5, 6.
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 115
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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