Page 179 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 179

 judge determines that the matter is “extended or complex” and that payment above this statutory threshold is “necessary to provide fair compensation.”611 The chief judge of the circuit—or another circuit judge who is delegated that authority—must then approve the payment.612 The CJA also limits payments for service providers
to $2,500 per case613 and allows for payments in excess of this amount only with approval from the circuit court. While district court review of vouchers presents many problems, as described elsewhere in this report, there is even less rationale for review by the circuit courts. District judges directly oversee criminal cases as they move through pretrial proceedings and trial. Thus, the presiding district judge has firsthand knowledge of the specific circumstances of each case and is better posi- tioned to evaluate how much time and what resources are necessary to effectively represent a particular defendant. By contrast, circuit judges are removed from the day-to-day litigation in the trial courts and do not have sufficient familiarity with individual cases to effectively evaluate attorney fee requests. As one case-budgeting attorney said, “I have always wondered about why does the circuit need to sign off on it. Did Congress not trust the district court judges? I don’t know what the rea- soning was there, but the judges familiar with the case should have the most input into the case.”614 Though it might be supposed that circuit assessment was intended to provide an extra level of review to control costs, the most expensive cases, cap- ital prosecutions, are not subject to that additional scrutiny. A federal defender expressed similar bemusement, saying, “Why the circuit has any role in reviewing the district court vouchers is beyond me. I thought it was an appeal, but it’s been interpreted that they can’t increase the amount, they can only decrease, which seems to me to make no sense.”615
6.1.1 Burdens on Judges Created by Circuit Review Requirement
Few circuit judges have previously worked in federal criminal defense. One excep- tion is Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of the Third Circuit. He is a former federal defender and CJA panel attorney. Judge Restrepo believes his experience with crim- inal defense work is essential to his ability to perform his role in reviewing excess vouchers. He explained, “A lot of it is visceral, quite frankly. I was a CJA lawyer for 13 years. I know what these cases look like.”616 Still, Judge Restrepo agreed that “the district court judge probably has a better idea as to what the case involved than
611 18USC§3006A(d)(3).
612 18USC§3006A(d)(3).
613 ThiscapalsobecameeffectiveMay5,2017.
614 BobRanz,CircuitCaseBudgetingAtty.,6thCir.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel1,Tr., at 12. The legislative history offers no explanation for circuit review.
615 A.J.Kramer,FPD,D.D.C,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel6,Tr.,at6.
616 JudgeLuisFelipeRestrepo,3dCir.,PublicHearing—Philadelphia,Pa.,Panel2a,Tr.,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 135
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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