Claims

General Claims Information

The primary source of information on panel attorney compensation claims is the Statewide Compensation Manual first published in 2019. In addition, panel attorneys must adhere to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) and Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee (AIDOAC) compensation policies on travel, habeas corpus petitions, use of associate counsel, and retaining receipts (see links in the side bar on this page). The guidance contained in the Statewide Manual and in the JCC and AIDOAC policies fully applies to First District claims.

For certain topics, however, additional information is provided for Unique First District Claims Policies and Procedures. Be sure to consult those unique policies regarding: use of translators, interpreters, experts and investigators.

Panel attorneys electronically transmit their compensation claims to FDAP through eClaims. FDAP then reviews the claim and makes recommendations for the amount of hours and expenses approved. Claims are also subject to random audit by AIDOAC, which may alter the amount recommended. In unusual cases, the Court of Appeal itself may make the final decision as to compensation.

Claims are evaluated under the compensation guidelines. The hourly rate for panel attorneys varies depending upon the type of case.

Panel attorneys bear the obligation to keep track of hours. The guidelines are neither a floor nor a ceiling on panel attorney compensation in a given case. Attorneys should only claim the amount of time actually spent on a given task. If an attorney claims above the guidelines amount and that amount is justified, full compensation may be awarded, but an explanation for hours over guidelines is needed.

A panel attorney anticipating unusual expenditures for travel or other expenses, should contact the consulting FDAP staff attorney about seeking advance approval from FDAP and/or the Court of Appeal. For example, although the guidelines permit reimbursement for expert witness expenses, it is a rare case in which such an expenditure is needed. Before hiring either an expert witness or an investigator, the panel attorney must discuss the matter with the consulting FDAP attorney and obtain pre-approval.

Unique First District Compensation Claims Policies and Procedures

Investigators/Experts

FDAP is authorized to approve, in appropriate cases, requests for funds up to $900 for investigator and/or expert services (as long as the expenses are also within the approved rates of $65/hour for investigators and $125/hour for experts). Requests for more than $900, or for a higher hourly rate, must be submitted to the Court of Appeal, as described below.

The following considerations are relevant for assessing when to go directly to the Court of Appeal and when to go to FDAP first for investigator and/or expert expense approval:

More than $900 (or Higher Rate) Needed: If counsel reasonably believes from the outset that more than $900 (or a higher hourly rate) is needed, counsel should make the request directly to the Court of Appeal in the form of an ex parte application (i.e. a pleading, not a letter).

When counsel submits the request to the Court of Appeal, counsel should: (a) entitle it: “Ex Parte Application for [Investigator/Expert] Funds” and (b) address it to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal division. However, rather than submit the application to the Court of Appeal through TrueFiling, counsel should email it to FDAP, which will forward the request to the Managing Attorney at the Court of Appeal. (As an ex parte application, it will not be served on the opposing party.) The Managing Attorney, in turn, will submit the application to the Presiding Justice, who will issue an order either granting, granting in part, or denying authorization to incur the requested expenses.

No More than $900 Needed: If counsel reasonably believes that they will only need $900 or less to complete the services for the case, counsel should address the request to FDAP through the consulting staff attorney.

Uncertainty Regarding Whether More than $900 Will be Needed. The more difficult situation is where counsel reasonably believes that an initial investigation/expert expenditure of $900 or less would reach a fairly definitive point at which counsel would know either: (a) the claim under investigation was not viable and nothing further will occur; or (b) the claim appears to be viable and there are now clear follow-up steps that will be needed which will bring the total cost above $900. In that situation, it is proper to bring the initial request to FDAP, and then subsequently go to the Court of Appeal for the further funds if the initial showing warrants it. However, the Court of Appeal does not want a situation where counsel knows they will inevitably be asking for more money but goes to FDAP first. Rather, it would be proper to go to FDAP initially, for example, in the following types of situations:

(1) There was an alleged favorable witness who was not called at trial; the request is to FDAP to send an investigator, for less than $900, to find the witness. If the witness is not found, or if the witness is found but not helpful, that would be the end of it. If the witness is found, and based on statements from the witness there are now new leads, counsel could then go to the Court of Appeal for additional funds based on what the initial investigation had shown.

(2) An expert will, for less than $900, review some materials (e.g. appellant’s medical records). If the review does not result in anything beneficial, that would be the end of it. If the review is positive, counsel could explain to the Court of Appeal what the expert has stated and then request further funding from the Court of Appeal, if necessary, for the expert’s declaration if that would take the total over $900.

As noted, there are no precise rules, but where counsel reasonably believes from the outset that they likely will need more than $900 counsel should make the initial request directly to the Court of Appeal.

Translators and Interpreters

Translation is only for correspondence and for in-person client meetings pre-approved by FDAP; no reimbursement for translating briefs, petitions and other legal documents.

The rate for translation is up to $30/hour, unless the Court of Appeal pre-approves a higher rate.

The Judicial Council’s Master List of Interpreters includes more than a thousand certified interpreters and registered interpreters (counsel can use either kind), and their contact information. The list covers more than a dozen certified languages and many more registered languages.

The list is searchable by language and by geographic area. However, the county search refers to the county in which the interpreter is willing to work; most of the interpreters indicate they will work in all counties, so a results list may include people who live a great distance away. An interpreter’s phone number area code might indicate where they reside.

After selecting a few interpreters from the list, counsel should:

  1. Call the interpreter and try to negotiate a rate of $30/hour. Pre-approval is not required for translation at that rate. Please remember, translation is only for letters or phone/in-person communication. Translating briefs or other legal pleadings and documents is not reimbursable. In-person visits to clients in custodial facilities , with or without interpreters, need pre-approval from FDAP.
  2. If no available interpreter will work for the $30/hour rate, the panel attorney should confer with the FDAP consulting staff attorney to request pre-approval for a higher rate, indicating what efforts were made in terms of getting names from the list, negotiating rates, etc.


If a panel attorney has a particularly good experience with a $30/hour translator, please contact FDAP and let us know. We keep a small in-house list.

Guidelines for Appointed Counsel Compensation

Attorney Time

Attorney Time Categories Guideline
1. Communication with appellant and/or trial counsel 3.5 hours
2. Record Review 1.0 hour for each 50 pages of record
3. Extensions of Time 0.5 hours
4. Motions to Augment 1.5 hours
5. Other Motions reasonable time
6. First Brief (Usually AOB) Statement of Case and Facts 1/2 of time to review record, up to 10.0 hours
Low Simple < 4 hours
Simple 4 hours
Simple to Average > 4 to < 8 hours
Average 8 hours
Average to Complex > 8 to < 13.5 hours
Complex 13.5 hours
7. Unbriefed Issues Low Simple < 0.5 hours
Simple 0.5 hours
Simple to Average > 0.5 to < 2.5 hours
Average 2.5 hours
Average to Complex > 2.5 to < 5.0 hours
Complex 5.0 hours
8. Reply Brief 1/3 of hours awarded for AOB
9. Supplemental Brief same as First Brief guidelines
10. Review of Opposing Brief After substantive brief 2.5 hours
After no-issue brief 0 hours
11. Habeas Corpus Petition 12.0 hours
12. Rehearing Petition 6.0 hours
13. Petition for Review 10.0 hours
14. Petition: Other reasonable time
15. Petition: Read Response reasonable time
16. Petition: Reply to Response 1/3 of hours awarded for petition
17. Oral Argument; 7.5 hours
18. Travel Reasonable time
19. Review Opinion After substantive brief 1.5 hours
After no-issue brief 0.2 hours
20. Review Superior Court File 2.0 hours
21. Consult with appellate project on assisted case 4.0 hours
on independent case 2.0 hours
22. Administrative Tasks 1.0 hours
23. Other Communications reasonable time
24. Other Services reasonable time

Attorney Expenses

Expenses Categories Guidelines
1. Photocopying actual cost, up to $0.10 per page
2. Brief Binding actual cost, if reasonable and necessary; explanation required; with electronic filing, need for brief binding is very rare
3. Postage/Delivery actual cost, if reasonable; explain if over $50
4. Telephone actual cost; if reasonable
5. Travel Actual necessary expenditures, with the limitations described in the Judicial Council’s Travel Guidelines for Court-Appointed Counsel in the Courts of Appeal
6. Court of Appeal Electronic Filing and Service Fees actual cost
7. Paralegal/Law Clerk $25 per hour
8. Translator/Interpreter actual cost, up to local prevailing rate
9. Miscellaneous reasonable cost

Hourly Rates for Panel Attorney Compensation

Type of case 7/1/16 – present 7/1/07-6/30/16 7/1/06 – 6/30/07 10/1/05 – 6/30/06 10/1/98 – 9/30/05

Independent cases meeting the following criteria:

  • Jury trial resulting in LWOP sentence; or
  • Jury trial resulting in conviction for violating Penal Code sections 187, 208d, 220, 261-269, or 281-294; or
  • Any case where record length exceeds 3,000 pages (before or after augmentation); or
  • A people’s appeal of a motion for new trial, where one or more of the above criteria are met.

7/1/16 – present

$115/hour

7/1/07-6/30/16

105

7/1/06 – 6/30/07

100

10/1/05 – 6/30/06

90

10/1/98 – 9/30/05

85
All other independent cases

7/1/16 – present

105

7/1/07-6/30/16

95

7/1/06 – 6/30/07

90

10/1/05 – 6/30/06

80

10/1/98 – 9/30/05

75
All assisted cases

7/1/16 – present

95

7/1/07-6/30/16

85

7/1/06 – 6/30/07

80

10/1/05 – 6/30/06

70

10/1/98 – 9/30/05

65

Direct Deposit Information

For information about direct deposit and for a link to the direct deposit form, visit the Judicial Council’s Court-Appointed Counsel Program web page.

Additional Claims Guidance and Policies from the Judicial Council, AIDOAC, and the Appellate Projects

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