A Proposal to Cut Costs in CJA Appeals

By Steve Klepper (@MDAppeal)

Inspired by Michelle Olsen’s May 2013 post reprinting her letter to D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland regarding the Court’s oral argument policy, I today sent a letter to Chief Judge Garland proposing how to reduce printing costs for court-appointed counsel.  I’ve had some unusual difficulties regarding some vendor invoices for printing of briefs and appendices in a CJA appeal.  I won’t reprint the portions detailing my individual issues, since (1) the details are boring, (2) my issues don’t compare with recent layoffs of judicial staff and public defenders, and (3) the main point of my letter is to suggest ways to reduce these problems going forward.

________________________________________________________

Dear Chief Judge Garland:

I write to request that the Court consider emergency revisions to the Circuit Rules governing Criminal Justice Act (CJA) appeals to reflect sequester-related cutbacks. My interest in this matter is that I am a member of this Court’s CJA appellate panel ….

I understand from recent comments by Judge Traxler on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States that the judiciary had run out of money for CJA counsel for the final two weeks of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.  See Zoe Tillman, Judge: Judiciary Planning for “Worst-Case Scenario” on Budget Cuts, The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times (Sept. 17, 2013) ….

Judge Traxler indicated that the Judicial Conference will “look at everything” to save money.  In that vein, I would propose that the Court consider emergency changes to the Circuit Rules to reduce the printing costs in CJA appeals.

First, I propose that the Court rescind the recent [circa 2010] changes to Circuit Rules 24 and 30 [requiring appointed counsel to file seven copies of an Appendix] and return to the requirement that appointed counsel file only four copies of a Record Extract.

Second, I propose that, pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 32(e), permitting local variation in the form of briefs, the Court amend Circuit Rule 32 to revise the minimum font and spacing requirements of Fed. R. App. P. 32(a)(4)–(5) in appointed-counsel appeals.  In all Maryland state court appeals, for instance, briefs may use 13-point proportionally spaced font and 1½-spacing.  See Md. Rule 8-112.

Third, I propose that in appointed-counsel appeals the Court amend Circuit Rule 32 to relax certain requirements of Fed. R. App. P. 32(a)(1)–(3).  Specifically, the Court could dispense with the requirement of a color-coded cover, permit printing on both sides of the page, and permit stapling rather than binding.  Such changes would mirror U.S. Supreme Court Rule 33.2, which governs all in forma pauperis filings, not just those by pro se parties.

While such changes are far from ideal, I believe that there could be substantial cost savings for the Court.   Moreover, such revisions would minimize the hardship upon CJA counsel, who face considerably uncertainty regarding payment of vendor invoices.

I thank the Court for any consideration it may see fit to give these proposals.

Sincerely,

Steven M. Klepper

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  1. "A Proposal to Cut Costs in CJA Appeals" | Internet Tax Lawyers - September 19, 2013

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