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United States v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 18, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MARIO RODRIGUEZ, 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. 461]. The Order of Reference requires a Report and Recommendation as to the reasonableness of the Second Interim Voucher submitted pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act ("CJA") (hereafter, "Second Interim CJA Voucher") by counsel for Defendant Mario Rodriguez ("Defendant"). Upon a thorough review of this matter, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the Second Interim 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 Second Interim CJA voucher submitted by Defendant's Attorney Jose Carlos Villanueva ("Attorney Villanueva") requests compensation in the of amount of $28, 416.51, which consists of $27, 535.20 in fees for 208.6 out-of-court hours, $660.00 in fees for 5.0 in-court hours, $211.68 for travel expenses, and $9.63 for other expenses.

         Attorney Villanueva was previously paid the amount of $10, 576.92, consisting of $10, 164.00 in fees for 77.0 out-of-court hours, $92.40 in fees for 0.7 in-court hours, $133.52 in travel expenses, and $187.00 in other expenses on his First Interim CJA Voucher [D.E. 408, 411].

         The CJA Budget approved in the case authorizes for Defendant 1, 855 hours at $132 per hour, for a total attorney fees amount of $244, 860. The attorney fee amount for the First Interim CJA Voucher and the Second Interim CJA Voucher is $38, 451.60.

         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 Bereer, 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 Second Interim CJA Voucher under consideration reflects the following out-of-court hours by category:

Category

Hours

Amount($)

interviews and Conferences

89.9

11866.80

Obtaining and Reviewing Records

65.3

8619.60

Legal Research and Brief Writing

29.9

3946.80

Travel Time

12.0

1584.00

Investigative and Other work

11.5

1518.00

Total

208.6

27535.20

         The undersigned has reviewed the time sheets submitted by Attorney Villanueva and finds these hours to be reasonable and within the approved budget amount, taking into consideration the amount already paid under the First Interim CJA Voucher.

         RECO ...


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