What is the Criminal Justice Act panel?
The panel consists of private attorneys who are eligible and willing to be appointed to provide representation to persons financially unable to attain adequate representation. A panel exists in Des Moines and Davenport for the Southern District of Iowa and a panel exits in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City for the Northern District of Iowa.
What kind of assistance can the FPD office offer CJA attorneys?
As part of its mission, the FPD assists CJA attorneys in providing effective representation to their clients. Panel attorneys are invited to consult with the FPD on any aspect of a CJA case. The FPD also has a full federal criminal practice law library that includes statute services, case reporters, manuals and treatises. Panel attorneys are invited to use the library by appointment for research and preparation of a CJA case. The FPD has a continually updated brief bank containing filings made by FPD attorneys. The FPD sponsors seminars throughout the year to discuss defense issues.
How can I become a member on the CJA Panel?
Contact the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Des Moines (515) 309-9629 for an application. Acceptance for panel representation is determined by the CJA Panel Committee which meets approximately every 6 months.
How many hours of CLE do I need to have each year in order to remain on the CJA Panel?
Six (6) federal credit hours are required each year.
Where can I get my CLE hours that are required?
The FPDO in Des Moines, puts on two 1-day seminars (spring and fall) every year. Each 1-day seminar will fulfill the 6 federal credit hours needed to remain on the CJA Panel. They also put on luncheon seminars which usually fulfill 1 hour of CLE as well as put on traveling seminars. Those seminars vary in CLE hours depending on the seminar.
How do I get paid after a case is closed?
- CJA 20 voucher form;
- Itemized bill from your law firm;
- In/Out of Court/Other Worksheets that breaks-down your itemized bill; (if your billing software already categorizes your time - these worksheets aren’t necessary).
- Any supporting documentation for your expenses; and
- If needed, a letter to the presiding judge explaining the overage of the case maximum,
Federal Public Defender’s Office
400 Locust St., Ste 340
Des Moines, IA 50309-2353
My claim is more than $9,700 in a criminal case. Do I need approval on my CJA 20 voucher if my compensation is over the case maximum allowed?
Yes. If the cumulative total COMPENSATION (for all attorneys combined compensation who represented the same defendant) is greater than $9,700 for work performed on or after January 1, 2010 (or the case maximum), you need to include a letter of explanation to the district judge on that case explaining why your bill went over the case maximum. Once your voucher has been reviewed by the Panel Administrator for accuracy, the voucher will be sent over to the presiding judge along with YOUR letter of explanation. If your voucher is approved by the presiding district court judge, that judge will then send a letter to the Eighth Circuit for their approval. Once the Eighth Circuit has approved your voucher, it is sent back to the FPD in Des Moines for final processing.
What happens if upon your review of my CJA 20 voucher, you discover I have made a mistake?
If your voucher contains a mistake that is equal to 1 hour ($125.00) or less, we will automatically correct the problem without notifying you. However, if there is more than a $125.00 discrepancy, we will return your CJA 20 voucher to you for correction.
What happens if I haven’t submitted all the proper documentation upon your review of my CJA 20 voucher?
We will either hold your CJA 20 and notify you to request any missing documentation OR we will return your CJA 20 back to you with instructions of what is needed in order to submit your CJA 20 for payment.
What happens if my bill isn’t in the format you have requested?
We will return your voucher to you for your correction. Since our office reviews a large volume of vouchers received in the Northern and Southern districts, our personnel need consistency in the formatting for expeditious processing.
My voucher and worksheets contain quarter hours (3.25, 6.75 etc.). Is this a problem?
Yes. Your claims can be only processed if reported in tenths of an hour (3.3, 6.8 etc.). If your voucher contains quarter hours, we will automatically round up to the nearest tenth.
My client needs clothes, a haircut and personal items so he/she is presentable when appearing at court. I have already purchased them and would like to be reimbursed. Can I claim these as expenses on my voucher?
No. These items are personal nature and are not reimbursable under the Criminal Justice Act. However, you can submit a receipt and it is at the Judge’s discretion to pay.
Can I bill for a law student or a paralegal working at my law firm?
Yes. His/her time must be entered under the “other expenses” only for the actual amount paid to the law student or paralegal. An itemization of his/her time and duty performed must also accompany the CJA 20.
A case is returned for re-sentencing. Can time and expenses be included on the original criminal case voucher?
No. This is a new appointment and all time and expenses must be claimed on a new CJA 20 voucher.
I have a case that has been on-going for over a year and my client still hasn’t been sentenced. I would like to get paid for my services so far. Can I submit my voucher for payment even if the case isn’t finished yet?
NDIA case, you must file a motion requesting interim payment. Once the order is filed, you must submit the order with your voucher for payment to the Panel Administrator for review.
SDIA case, write a letter to the judge requesting interim payment and send the letter with your CJA 20 voucher to the Panel Administrator who, after reviewing your bill, will submit it to the judge along with your CJA 20 voucher for approval.
I had to withdraw from a case due to conflict. I understand multiple attorneys have been appointed after me. Can I submit my bill for payment, even though the case isn’t finished yet?
If your case is a SDIA case: Per the SDIA Judges, we hold all vouchers submitted until the case is done. Once concluded and if the sum of all the vouchers compensation go over the case maximum allowed, the last attorney must submit an over-the-limit letter to the Judge to be submitted with their CJA 20 voucher.
However, if: you wish to be paid before the case is concluded, you can ask for an interim payment.
Can an attorney charge for preparing a CJA voucher?
When is it necessary to budget for an extraordinary case?
When it is possible that the case will exceed $30,000 or 300 hours of attorney time.
Once I have submitted my CJA 20 voucher for payment, how long will it take for me to receive my money?
Typically, it may take us approximately 10-30 days to process your voucher (assuming there are no problems with the voucher and depending on how long each judge may hold the voucher before the judge signs it to authorize payment. Once the judge signs it, that allows us to process the voucher for payment).
I finished a case last year and I just realized that I never submitted my claim - may I do it now?
Yes, but you must submit a memorandum explaining why you are submitting your voucher more than 45 days after the completion of the case.
If I am representing a witness, who is later indicted, am I automatically appointed as their attorney?
No. If you have knowledge an indictment is forthcoming, we ask that you contact The Federal Public Defender’s office in Des Moines ahead of time to let us know your desire to continue to represent this person in their criminal case.
I needed an interpreter present throughout all my meetings with my client and he submitted an invoice to me. Shall I pay the interpreter and claim it on my CJA 20?
NO!! Interpreters and all other experts and other services (e.g. experts, psychologists, investigators, fingerprint analysis, etc.), are to be claimed on a CJA 21.
Can a CJA panel attorney use the Federal Public Defender’s interpreters or investigators?
No. You must seek out your own interpreter or investigator. However, FPD has a database of experts and can provide you with that information.
What needs to be attached to a CJA 21 voucher for claims for services?
1. An itemized statement of all services for which reimbursement is claimed. An explanation of the fee arrangement (i.e. hourly rate, per diem rate, etc.), statement as to the type of, dates of, and time expended for the services provided.
If interpreter, also attach the “Interpreter Worksheet” with your bill.
2. Receipts for any expenses in excess of $50;
3. A copy of the Order allowing payment (if applicable);
I have obtained the services of an investigator or expert and the fees are more than $500. What should I do?
Any claim for investigators, interpreters or other experts, that is more than $500, requires the approval of the court before the claim may be processed. If the claim is for more than $1,600, then circuit approval is needed.
If your case is a SDIA case: You will need to file an ex-parte motion requesting advanced authorization.
If your case is a NDIA case: You will need to file an ex-parte motion requesting advanced authorization
I ordered a transcript of the sentencing hearing of my client and the court reporter submitted an invoice to me. Shall I pay the court reporter and claim it on the CJA 20?
No. The court reporter should be claimed on a CJA 24.