United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON COUNSEL'S CJA
VOUCHER REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS
JONATHAN GOODMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Criminal Justice Act (the “CJA”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 3006A, the Court appointed Marc D. Seitles
(“Counsel”) to represent Defendant Francklin
Pierre. [ECF No. 13]. Counsel submitted a CJA voucher
application with appended, detailed time sheets, requesting
as final payment $16, 592.80 in attorney's fees and
$963.33 in costs, totaling $17, 556.13. United States
District Judge Jose E. Martinez referred this matter to me
for a Report and Recommendations. [ECF No. 218].
total requested amount exceeds the $10, 000 maximum that the
CJA provides for attorney's fees in non-capital felony
cases at the trial level. Guidelines, Vol. 7A, Chapter 2,
§ 230.23.20. Accordingly, I ordered Counsel to file a
motion justifying his request for fees in excess of the
statutory cap. [ECF No. 219]. Counsel did so. [ECF No. 220');">220].
reviewed the voucher, the motion, and the pertinent portions
of the record, the Undersigned respectfully
recommends that the District Court
approve the voucher in its entirety.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT GUIDELINES
United States Judicial Conference developed the Guidelines
for Administering the CJA and Related Statutes (the
“Guidelines”) to assist courts in applying the
provisions of the CJA. See In re Burger, 498 U.S.
233, 234 (1991). The CJA plan for the Southern District of
Florida explicitly states that “[p]ayment of fees and
expenses to appointed counsel under this plan . . . shall be
made in accordance with the provisions of the United States
Judicial Conference's guidelines for the administration
of the Criminal Justice Act[.]” See CJA Plan,
Southern District of Florida.
provides that an appointed attorney shall be compensated for
time expended in court and for time “reasonably
expended out of court” at the conclusion of CJA
representation. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(1). The CJA also
provides for payment of “expenses reasonably
incurred.” Id. The district court, as the body
empowered to “fix” the compensation of
CJA-appointed attorneys, has the statutory authority and
discretion to determine what is a reasonable expense or use
of billable time. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(5); United
States. v. Griggs, 240 F.3d 974 (11th Cir. 2001).
recommend a fee exceeding the statutory maximum, the district
court must first certify that the case involves
“extended” representation. 18 U.S.C. §
3006A(d)(3) (emphasis added). The court may find a case
“complex” if the “legal or factual issues .
. . are unusual, thus requiring the expenditure of more time,
skill and effort by the lawyer than would normally be
required in an average case.” Guidelines, Vol. 7A,
Chapter 2, § 230.23.40(b). A case is
“extended” if “more time is reasonably
required for total processing than the average case.”
Id. After certifying that the case is either
“complex” or “extended, ” the
district court must determine whether the amount sought is
necessary to provide Counsel with fair compensation.
Facts of the Case
February 26, 2015, the United States filed a criminal
complaint against Pierre and two other individuals, alleging
that the group had engaged in a conspiracy to import a
controlled substance into the U.S., namely, five kilograms or
more of cocaine. [ECF No. 1]. On March 10, 2015, the United
States indicted these individuals on four drug charges: (1)
conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the U.S.,
(2) the actual importation of the controlled substance into
the U.S., (3) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
a controlled substance, and (4) the actual possession with
intent to distribute. [ECF No. 21].
Judge Patrick A. White entered a standing discovery order
shortly thereafter. [ECF No. 27]. The United States filed
five separate responses to the discovery order. [ECF Nos. 29;
43; 52; 75; 77]. Counsel represents that the responses
“totaled more than 3 CD's and 21 DVD's which
consisted of thousands of pages of Police Reports, NCIC
Reports, photographs, Interviews, Terminal, Vessell [sic],
Toll Logs, schedules and numerous hours of surveillance
video.” [ECF No. 220');">220, p. 2].
also states that “[f]rom the very beginning, Defendant
Pierre expressed his innocence, ” leaving Counsel with
“no other alternative but to prepare for the eminent
possibility of a trial in this matter.” [ECF No. 220');">220,
p. 2]. Trial was originally set for April 20, 2015. [ECF No.
28]. But the trial was then continued nine times, the last
continuance being for February 21, 2017. [ECF Nos. 35; 63;
120; 136; 154; 169; 201; 206; 213]. The trial, however, never
occurred because on January 18, 2017, the United States
dismissed the indictment against Pierre with prejudice. [ECF
the case was pending, Counsel made numerous filings on
Pierre's behalf. In Counsel's words, he provided more
than 30 submissions “ranging from appointment of
experts, motions to take foreign depositions, motions to
suppress statements, motions requiring mental health
evaluations, request for sanctions and challenging
psychological competency issues as well as standard motions
for cost, appointment and continuances.” [ECF No. 220');">220,
p. 2]. The Undersigned was involved in several of those
issues -- reviewing the memoranda, holding evidentiary
hearings, issuing orders and reports and ...