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United States v. Toby

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 13, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
VENCESS TOBY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ALICIA M . OTAZO-REYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS CAUSE came before the undersigned by Order of Reference issued by the Honorable Jose E. Martinez, United States District Judge, pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 636 [D.E. 438]. The Order of Reference requires a Report and Recommendation as to the reasonableness of the Final Voucher submitted pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act ("CJA") (hereafter, "Final CJA Voucher") by counsel for Defendant Vencess Toby ("Defendant"). Id. Upon a thorough review of this matter, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the Final CJA Voucher be approved.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In this case, fourteen defendants are charged in a Superseding Indictment [D.E. 193], The charges in the Superseding Indictment consist of: a RICO conspiracy whose predicate acts include threats of murder, robbery, and drug trafficking; a drug trafficking conspiracy; possession of drugs with intent to distribute; possession/use of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and crimes of violence; and Hobbs Act Robbery. Id.

         The Final CJA voucher submitted by Defendant's Attorney Scott Sakin ("Attorney Sakin") requests compensation in the amount of $20, 938.77, which consists of $20, 130.00 in fees for 152.50 out-of-court hours, $290.40 in fees for 2.2 in-court hours, $498.24 in travel expenses, and $20.13 in other expenses.

         The CJA Budget approved in the case authorizes for Defendant 367 hours at $132 per hour, for a total attorney fees amount of $48, 644.00. Attorney Sakin has already received compensation for his First Interim CJA Voucher in the amount of $10, 286.87.[1]

         APPLICABLE GUIDELINES

         The United States Judicial Conference developed the Guidelines for Administering the CJA and Related Statutes (the "Guidelines") to assist courts in the application of the provisions of the CJA. See In re Berger, 498 U.S. 233, 234 (1991). In the Guidelines, judges are "urged to compensate counsel at a rate and in an amount sufficient to cover appointed counsel's general office overhead and to ensure adequate compensation for representation provided." See Section §630.20 of the Guidelines. The CJA Plan for the Southern District of Florida explicitly states that "[p]ayment of fees and expenses shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the [Guidelines]." The district court, as the body empowered to "fix" the compensation of CJA-appointed counsel, has the statutory authority and discretion to determine what is a reasonable expense or a reasonable use of billable time. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(5); United States v. Griggs, 240 F.3d 974(11th Cir. 2001).

         DISCUSSION

         The Final CJA Voucher reflects the following out-of-court hours by category:

Category

Hours

Amount $

Interviews and Conferences

44.2

5, 834.40

Obtaining and Reviewing Records

63.8

8, 421.60

Legal Research and Brief Writing

7.9

1, 042.80

Travel Time

24.5

3, 234.00

Investigative and Other work

12. 1

1, 597.20

Total

152.5

20, 130.00

         The undersigned has reviewed the time sheets submitted by Attorney Sakin and finds these hours to be reasonable and within the approved budget amount.

         RECOMMENDATION

         Based on the foregoing, the undersigned RESPECTFULLY RECOMMENDS that Attorney Sakin's Final CJA Voucher be approved in the amount of $20, 938.77, which consists of $20, 130.00 in fees for 152.50 out-of-court hours, $290.40 in fees for 2.2 in-court hours, $498.24 in travel expenses, and $20.13 in other expenses. The undersigned further recommends approval of the excess over the statutory cap to ...


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