Page 162 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 162

Cuts without explanation
In districts that have not followed the Judicial Conference’s recommendation to provide attorneys with notice and an opportunity to address the matter, practi- tioners often learn of cuts only when they receive a reduced check. No explana- tion of the cut is provided. Other times, attorneys are told only that the bill was simply too high or that the presiding judge had a “gut feeling” that it should be reduced. Such cuts are particularly demoralizing, driving away qualified attor- neys and making recruitment difficult. As seen in the survey results below, among panel attorneys surveyed by this Committee, 29 percent “rarely” or “never” received an explanation for a voucher cut.
If you have had a voucher(s) cut or denied, were you given an opportunity to contest the decision or provide an explanation?
             118 2 0 1 7
Many panel attorneys expressed frustration during public hearings that they were not informed of the reviewing judge’s intention to cut their voucher or the basis for the cut. As one panel attorney testified: “In some districts, we will receive notification when our vouchers are being cut and given the opportunity to respond to that. In other districts, we don’t know until we receive a check in the mail.”516 As a result, attorneys are deprived of an opportunity to explain to the judge why the cuts are unwarranted or to fully understand the judge’s reasoning and anticipate how to prevent such cuts in the future.
Frustration is highest when judges cut vouchers based on a visceral sense that the voucher is simply too high. A panel attorney expressed frustration with this, testifying, “If you have a judge who cuts your bill by a certain amount of money and says, ‘Well, it was just a gut feeling,’ how is a panel attorney supposed to take that? What was it about my bill? What line item did you have a problem with?”517 The lack of any requirement to justify voucher cuts allows cuts to be
516 CoriHarbour-Valdez,CJAPanelAtty.,W.D.Tex.&D.N.M.,PublicHearing—SantaFe,NM,Panel 5, Tr. at 2.
517 AnthonySolis,CJAPanelAttyDist.Rep.,C.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel6, Tr. at 39.
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.
Usually Sometimes Rarely Never
14.19% 10.38%
   10% 20%
30% 40% 50%
Source: CJA Review Committee Survey on Vouchers (June 2016), available at

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