CJA Vouchers FAQs

The Clerk's Office is fortunate to have an experienced and dedicated staff. While we encourage you to call us if you have questions, we hope you will first take the time to research your inquiry using the various sections of this web site. To expedite your research this section provides answers to those frequently asked questions about the court and its procedures. We hope you find them helpful and informative.

  • How do I get reimbursed for my travel and non-travel expenses?
    Travel related expenses that are incidental to the representation (e.g., transportation, lodging, meals, car rental, parking, tolls, etc.) must be itemized on a travel expense worksheet that indicates the date each expense was incurred. Attach supporting documentation (receipts, canceled checks, etc.) for all travel expenses over $50, except mileage. Travel expenses by privately owned automobile, motorcycle, or aircraft should be claimed at the rate in effect for federal employees at the time of travel. To properly record mileage, list the specific number of miles traveled multiplied by the rate in effect at the time of the travel. Please do not simply enter the total dollar amount without specifying the number of miles and the rate you used to arrive at that dollar figure. For overnight travel, reasonable expenses for lodging and meals will be reimbursed on an actual expense basis; per diem is not allowed. Please note that out-of-state travel plans (e.g. air, train or car) require pre-approval by the court. When required to travel out-of-state, you can only be reimbursed for the least expensive form of travel. Thus, you should compare the cost of driving at the applicable mileage rate (including tolls and parking) against the cost of plane or train fare. Once you have determined the estimated cost of the least expensive form of travel, you must submit a Motion for Out-of-State Travel requesting court approval for the estimated cost. Counsel is limited to the prevailing travel and subsistence rates applicable to federal employees. Prior to any overnight or out-of-state travel, counsel should contact the clerk’s office to obtain the applicable rates and federal government travel regulations. All non-travel expenses should be itemized on a non-travel expense worksheet. Provide the date incurred and a brief description of each expense. Supporting documentation such as receipts, canceled checks, or affidavits must be submitted for any single expense in excess of $50.
  • Can I claim expenses for computer-assisted legal research?
    The cost of computer-assisted legal research may be reimbursable provided that the total expenses for computer-assisted legal research do not exceed the total amount of attorney compensation that reasonably would have been approved if counsel had performed the research manually. Claims for compensation for such services should be submitted on the CJA 20. Whenever appointed counsel incurs charges for computer-assisted legal research, counsel should attach the following: 1) a brief statement setting forth the issue or issues that were the subject matter of the research; and 2) an estimate of the number of hours of attorney time that would have been required to do the research manually; and 3) a copy of the bill/receipt or an explanation of the precise basis for the charge. Please note that CJA Panel members who use PACER in connection with their CJA appointments can obtain a fee exempt login and password from the PACER Service Center.
  • What should I do if my compensation claims exceed the statutory maximum?
    If the amount of compensation claimed (compensation only, not expenses) exceeds the statutory maximum (see 18 § 3006A(d)(2) for the allowed maximums), a motion to exceed should accompany the voucher. Remember that the maximum applies per case and per defendant. Thus, if you replaced another CJA attorney, his/her claim must be added to your total to determine whether the statutory maximum has been reached. Please also note that for cases filed on or after August 1, 2012, a Cost Containment Interim Voucher and proposed budget must be filed as soon as the accumulated compensation reaches the statutory maximum.
  • Can I be paid on an interim basis, rather than at the close of the case?
    To obtain an order for interim payments, counsel must affirmatively establish both a financial hardship and that the case is extended or complex. If granted by the presiding judge, the order for interim payments must then be approved by the Chief Judge of the First Circuit or his/her designee. If approved, interim payments must be filed on a monthly basis and regulations require that we withhold 20% of both in-court and out-of-court fees from each interim payment. The withheld amounts will be released when the final voucher is filed.
  • I represent a defendant in a criminal case. What happens if he/she appears as a witness against another defendant?
    If a defendant in a criminal case is going to appear as a witness against another defendant, a separate CJA appointment must be made. Fees and expenses should be tracked separately from the case in which the witness is the defendant, and a separate CJA 20 voucher must be filed for the witness representation. The statutory maximum for such appointment falls in the “All Others” category. The clerk's office should immediately be advised if such a witness arrangement is made so that the necessary appointment forms can be prepared.
  • Can I claim time for work performed by a partner or associate?
    The Guide to Judiciary Policies and Procedures allows co-counsel only in exceptional circumstances, but it does permit a partner or associate of a CJA member to assist in a case. A firm member, however, cannot participate to such an extent that he or she is effectively representing the client or is effectively co-counsel in the case. Additionally, unless the court appoints the partner or associate as co-counsel, he or she cannot be paid for simultaneous court or trial appearances. Thus, a member of the firm can work on the case and appear on occasion for the appointed attorney, but he cannot take over the case or effectively work as co-counsel in the case, even if the partner or associate is a CJA Panel member. When appointed counsel claims time for services furnished by a partner or associate, counsel must separately identify that person, the work performed, and time on separate worksheets. The hours are not an expense of counsel and they do count toward the maximum case compensation limits. For cases filed on or after September 1, 2013, the partner/associate rate is $80-$90 per hour.
  • What time can I claim as in-court time?
    In-court time is the time that you are actually talking with a judicial officer. This may be in a courtroom, in chambers, or even by telephone. While the in-court worksheets list the most common examples, such as arraignments, motion hearings, and trial, remember that pretrial conferences, status conferences, or telephone conferences with the judge also qualify as in-court time. In-court time may also be claimed for those occasions when counsel’s presence at the courthouse is required. The rule of thumb is that if counsel is required to be here and cannot be at the office, the in-court rate will apply. For example, if a hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. and counsel reports for that time but the hearing does not start till 9:30 a.m., that half hour spent waiting for the proceeding may be counted as in-court time. If, however, counsel requests a continuance to 10 a.m. to confer with his/her client, that will not be considered in-court time. Also, during trial or full-day hearings, counsel may also claim in-court time from the start of the proceeding until adjournment each day of the trial. We allow this because we know that during these times, even when the court breaks for lunch or recess, counsel typically will continue to work on the case in some fashion. Before preparing your final voucher, query the case's docket report to verify the dates and duration of all in-court proceedings.
  • How do I calculate in-court and out-of-court service hours?
    When calculating your service hours, use hours and tenths of an hour. Always round up to the nearest tenth. Time increments in tenths: 6 min = .1, 12 min = .2, 18 min = .3, 24 min = .4, 30 min = .5, 36 min = .6, 42 min = .7, 48 min = .8, 54 min = .9, 60 min = 1.0