CJA FAQ: Capital Representation

  • I have been appointed on a complex/mega case and am in need of a discovery coordinator, computer hardware, etc. What needs to be done?

    Contact the National Litigation Support Team. You can go to the Federal Defender’s Website, www.fd.org to the sub-tab “Litigation Support”. Once in this site, you will be given a great deal of information regarding the National Litigation Support Team

  • If a capital case is de-authorized (by the U.S. Attorney General) and it becomes a non-death case, should the judge reduce the number of appointed CJA attorneys and lower the hourly rate for appointed counsel?

    Number of appointed attorneys

    At the outset of every capital case (one in which the defendant is charged with an offense that may be punishable by death), the court should appoint two attorneys, at least one of whom is experienced in and knowledgeable about the defense of death penalty cases.  See 18 U.S.C. Section 3599 and CJA Guideline 620.

    If it is ultimately determined that the death penalty will not be sought, the court should reduce the number of appointed counsel unless there are extenuating circumstances.  See CJA Guideline 630.30.20 for relevant factors.

    Compensation

    If the capital case becomes a non-death case (for trial), the court should reduce the compensation rate for appointed counsel unless there are extenuating circumstances.  See CJA Guideline 630.30.30 for relevant factors.  Any reduction in the compensation rate should only be applied prospectively.

    If a capital trial becomes a non-death appeal (because the jury returned a non-death verdict), the court should not reduce appellate counsel’s compensation rate if, as a result of the appeal, it could once again become a capital case.

  • When a capital case goes “non-death,” should you continue to use Form CJA30 (and Form CJA31) or switch to Form CJA20 (and Form CJA21)?

    The guiding principle is:  “Once a 30, always a 30.”  Once counsel is appointed on (or submits) a Form CJA30 (because the case is death-eligible or an authorized capital case), even if it is determined that the death penalty will not be sought, the court and appointed counsel should continue to use Form CJA30 (and Form CJA31 for service providers).