Page 180 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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anybody reviewing the voucher [at the circuit level].”617
Circuit judges commonly believe they are poorly positioned to evaluate vouch-
ers. As the Ninth Circuit Appellate Commissioner reported, “None of [the circuit judges] feel well equipped to do that....[I]t seems irrational to give that kind of auditing review to people at the top of the management level who don’t have any prior experience, insight, into the details of the case....I think I can freely say to you that the unanimous view of the judges who’ve played that role in our circuit is that they don’t want to do it and they don’t see the rationale.”618
Finally, circuit court review of excess vouchers creates additional work for district as well as circuit judges. District judges must draft a document to the approving cir- cuit judge describing the case and explaining in detail why the excess cost should be approved.619 A chief district judge wrote, “The Circuit has encouraged judges to write memorand[a] justifying the requested amounts, but with our extensive workload, it
is difficult to find the time to provide further justification....[W]e request that the Ad Hoc Committee recommend elimination of circuit court review of vouchers.” 620
6.1.2 Burdens on CJA Attorneys Created by Circuit Review
The current system also requires panel attorneys to expend “a substantial amount of time” to try to justify vouchers in excess of the maximum, and that time is not compensable.621 In the end, circuit review delays, sometimes significantly, pay- ment of vouchers, and can result in substantial cuts to an attorney’s fees. One dis- trict CJA representative surveyed panel attorneys in his district about circuit review and reported that, in the best case scenario, an attorney’s voucher is “found to be reasonable” and is “paid anywhere from three six months later” than when the attorney would have otherwise been paid.622 Substantial testimony also showed that some circuits regularly reduce fees with little or no justification.
CJA panel attorneys, many of whom are solo practitioners, often have dif- ficulty absorbing the costs of extended delays of and reductions in payment. Rather than wait for payment and risk cuts at the circuit level, some panel attor- neys simply choose to not bill for otherwise reimbursable work in order to keep the voucher below the amount requiring circuit court review. One district judge told the Committee that when a CJA panel attorney in his district submits a
617 Id.at10.
618 PeterShaw,AppellateComm’r,9thCir.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel1,Tr.,at17–18.
619 BobRanz,CircuitCaseBudgetingAtty.,6thCir.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel1,Tr., at 12; see also Guide to Judicary Policy, Vol. 7A, § 230.30(b)(2).
620 ChiefJudgeJohnR.Tunheim,D.Minn.,PublicHearing—Minneapolis,Minn.,Panel6,Writ.Test., at 1.
621 RobertRichman,BoardMemberofMinn.Assoc.ofCriminalDefenseLawyers,Public Hearing—Minneapolis, Minn., Panel 4, Tr., at 24.
622 MarkWindsor,CJAPanelAtty.,C.D.Cal.,PublicHearing—SanFrancisco,Cal.,Panel3,Tr.,at6.
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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