U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Appointed Counsel


Aggregate Limits: For direct criminal appeals, appeals from the denial of habeas corpus or § 2255 relief, and civil forfeiture appeals, a $7,100 limitation, exclusive of expenses, applies to attorney compensation ($7,000 if all work was completed prior to January 1, 2015). For interlocutory appeals, appeals from orders dismissing an indictment, appeals from post-judgment motions, appeals from sentence reduction motions, bail appeals, commitment appeals, appeals from probation revocation proceedings, extraordinary writs, and motions for authorization to file successive petitions, a $2,100 limit applies. These limitations apply per defendant in a consolidated matter. If another attorney is substituted during the appeal, the limitations apply to joint compensation. Attorneys seeking compensation in excess of these limits must submit a separate, detailed memorandum demonstrating that the case is more complex or time consuming than the average case and that excess payment is necessary to provide fair compensation.
Hourly Rates: A $127 hourly rate applies to in-court and out-of-court work performed on or after January 1, 2015 ($126 per hour for work between March 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014, and $110 per hour for work between September 1, 2013, and February 28, 2014).
Worksheet Breakdown of Attorney Time: Attorney time must be documented on the court's CJA 20 worksheets or like form. The court's CJA 20 worksheets include an automatic calculation function that expedites completion of the voucher and reduces mathematical errors. Time must be broken down according to date, description of services, amount of time in hours and tenths of an hour, and according to the following categories established for payment under the CJA: (a) interviews and conferences; (b) obtaining and reviewing records; (c) legal research and brief writing; (d) travel time; and (e) investigative and other work. Use of the CJA 20 worksheets facilitates the court’s review of counsel’s request for compensation, but billing records may be submitted in place of the worksheet so long as all hours claimed are assigned to one of the five CJA categories and the totals for each category are listed on the face of the voucher. Counsel must describe the services provided with enough specificity for the court to determine whether the services billed are reasonable and necessary to the representation. Entries such as "record review-6 hours," "research-4 hours," or "brief preparation-5 hours" are not acceptable.
What Time May Be Claimed: Counsel may claim in this court all time spent representing the client on appeal, after filing of the notice of appeal through preparation of a petition for writ of certiorari. Counsel’s obligation upon appointment on appeal extends through advising the client of the right to file a petition for writ of certiorari and filing such a petition if requested. If counsel believes that a petition for writ of certiorari would be frivolous, counsel may, in lieu of filing the petition, file a motion to withdraw in this court. Counsel should not file their voucher until they have completed their representation through the certiorari stage. Claims seeking excess compensation which include work performed on a petition for writ of certiorari must be supported with a copy of the petition.
Whose Time May Be Claimed: Court-appointed counsel may claim compensation for their own time as well as for the time of a partner or associate in their firm. If appointed counsel has obtained prior authorization from the court for assistance from an attorney outside counsel’s firm and the attorney authorized by the court has entered an appearance as co-counsel, appointed counsel may also claim compensation for that attorney’s time. An associated attorney's hours should be included on appointed counsel's voucher, with the associated attorney's time and services reflected on a separate worksheet. Associate time spent learning the case or the law should not be billed if it duplicates or exceeds the time required for appointed counsel to perform the same work. The limits on compensation set by the Act apply to all compensation claimed.
Compensation may not be claimed for work performed by non-attorneys. However, a CJA 21 voucher may be used to pay for services provided by paralegals at an hourly rate of $35, and for services provided by law clerks at an hourly rate of $25, if such services will result in greater efficiency and lower costs for the CJA program. If the total cost of services from all service providers will exceed $800 for the appeal, advance authorization is required.
Secretarial and clerical services are not reimbursable. Because it ordinarily is a clerical function, counsel should not charge for downloading, opening, renaming, saving, printing, and/or forwarding an electronic court filing (ECF) notice. Counsel may bill for reading substantive documents attached to the ECF notice, but should aggregate time spent during the day and ensure that double billing of time does not occur.
Expense Worksheet: The court's CJA 20 worksheets automatically total expenses to expedite voucher preparation and reduce mathematical errors.
Travel Expenses: The only travel expenses subject to reimbursement are those incurred by appointed counsel. The court will not pay travel expenses for non-appointed co-counsel or student counsel.
Counsel traveling by plane or train to present oral argument should request a Travel Authorization from the clerk’s office after argument has been scheduled for a date certain. The Travel Authorization entitles counsel to make plane and train reservations through National Travel Service (NTS) at government travel rates. If reservations are made through NTS, the clerk’s office will make payment directly to the carrier after verifying that counsel used the reservation. If plane or train reservations are not made through NTS, counsel should claim reimbursement for the plane or train ticket on the CJA 20 voucher. If the ticket was more expensive than the government rate that could have been obtained through NTS, reimbursement will be limited to the government rate.
Automobile mileage expenses may be claimed by itemizing on the expense worksheet the date, destination, and number of miles traveled. Current mileage reimbursement rates may be found at www.gsa.gov/mileage, and archived mileage reimbursement rates may be found at www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103969.
Court-appointed counsel are eligible for government hotel rates and should request the lowest available rate when making their hotel reservations. One night’s lodging and meals while on travel will be reimbursed at an actual expense rate not in excess of $260 for travel to Richmond (derived from federal per diem limits for lodging at $113 and meals at $66 per day, plus hotel taxes at $15). Subsistence expenses for travel to present argument at locations other than Richmond will likewise be reimbursed within federal per diem limitations.
All travel expenses (lodging, meals, parking, ground transportation) must be supported by receipts. Receipts for meals and lodging must be sufficiently detailed to establish that reimbursement is not being sought for alcoholic beverages, safe deposit boxes, in-room movies or other expenses which are not reimbursable under the CJA. For this reason, the hotel or restaurant bill, rather than a credit card receipt must be submitted.
Reimbursement for significant travel other than for argument will be made only if counsel obtained leave of court before incurring the expense, upon a showing of specific need for the travel and the expenses to be incurred. Counsel traveling to a location for more than one representation must maintain their records in a manner that prevents submission of duplicate travel reimbursement claims.
Transcript Expenses: Transcripts may be requested from the court reporter in either paper or electronic form. Upon receiving the transcript, counsel is responsible for requesting redaction of any private or sensitive data before the transcript is made publicly available on the district court’s electronic docket, in accordance with the Judicial Conference Policy on Privacy and Public Access to Electronic Case Files.
In multi-defendant CJA cases, electronic or paper copies of necessary transcript prepared for one defendant must be provided to co-defendants by the court reporter, co-counsel, or the district court clerk. Payment for transcript copies is claimed on a CJA 24 voucher and is limited to commercially competitive rates not to exceed $.15 per page. For assistance in obtaining electronic copies of the transcript, see Record Access for New Appellate Counsel or contact the Fourth Circuit appointments deputy, Lisa McFarland.
Copy Expenses: CJA counsel are not required to pay PACER fees or court copy fees in CJA cases, and such fees are therefore not reimbursable under the CJA. Counsel should register for a fee exempt PACER account at www.pacer.gov, and use that account when accessing electronic documents in CJA cases. The district court’s PACER docket and electronic documents are accessible through a link to the district court docket from the appellate docket. The “Create appendix” option for running a PACER docket report enables counsel to select which documents to include in the appendix.
Counsel may obtain reimbursement for in-house copying of documents at a rate not to exceed $.15 per page by itemizing on the enclosed expense worksheet the dates, number of copies, and cost per page. Counsel may claim reimbursement for copying portions of the record for the defendant, up to $75, and for providing defendant with a copy of the briefs and joint appendix. For photocopying of briefs and appendices by commercial printers, reimbursement for actual expenses not to exceed $.35 per sheet may be obtained by submitting a receipt detailing what was copied, number of copies, and cost per copy. Copy costs for CD's and DVD's may not exceed $1.00 per copy.
Double-sided copying must be used for appendices prepared by commercial printers. Under Local Rule 32(a), no appendix in a court-appointed case may exceed 500 pages (or 250 double-sided sheets) if commercial copying is used, absent advance permission from the court. Unless counsel has obtained leave to file an oversize appendix, reimbursement will be limited to the pages allowable under Local Rule 32(a). In addition, counsel may be required to bear any additional costs associated with resubmitting corrected briefs and appendices in cases where counsel did not follow the court’s rules in the initial submission.
If a commercial printer prepares the briefs and appendix, a separate application may be made on a CJA 21 voucher for direct payment of printing bills, in excess of $100, to the printer. Petitions for rehearing must be copied in-house. Because Rule 14(1)(i) of the Supreme Court Rules requires only a limited appendix to accompany a petition for writ of certiorari, copying costs for petitions for writs of certiorari and accompanying appendices shall not exceed $500 absent advance permission of the court of appeals.
Long Distance Telephone Calls and Facsimile Charges: Counsel may claim reimbursement for long distance phone calls and facsimile charges by itemizing on the expense worksheet the date and amount of the long distance charge. If the amount exceeds $50, a copy of the bill is required. Any other charge associated with use of counsel’s phone or fax equipment is considered non-reimbursable office overhead.
Postage and Courier Charges: Delivery charges may be claimed by itemizing on the expense worksheet the date, description of expense, and cost. Any expense in excess of $50 must be supported by a detailed receipt. Briefs and appendices are deemed filed upon first-class mailing or dispatch to a commercial courier for delivery within three days, and counsel should minimize the use of special services such as same day or overnight delivery.
Computer Assisted Legal Research: The cost of use by appointed counsel of computer assisted legal research equipment may be allowed as a reimbursable expense, provided that the amount claimed is reasonable. Claims for reimbursement for computer assisted legal research must be supported with a copy of the bill and receipt for the use of the legal research services or an explanation of the precise basis of the charge (e.g., indicating the extent to which it was derived by proration of monthly charges or by charges identifiable to the specific research). If the amount claimed is in excess of $500 or if it includes costs for downloading or printing, counsel should include a brief justification.
Computer Assisted Legal Research Services: Payment for research services performed by employees of a computer legal research firm is made on a CJA 21 voucher, upon a showing that the total amount charged for the services is reasonable. If the total cost of services from all service providers will exceed $800 for the appeal, advance authorization is required.
Interpreter and Translation Services: Counsel requiring interpreter services may obtain contact information from the district court for the interpreter used during defendant's district court proceedings or for other interpreters. Certification is not required for interpreter services on appeal, and additional contacts may be obtained through the online database maintained by the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Federally certified interpreters are paid at a rate not in excess of $58, and interpreters without a federal certification are paid at a rate of $34 per hour. Counsel must request advance authorization from the court of appeals, setting forth the estimated cost of necessary interpreter services based on the number of hours and rate. Counsel requiring translation services should request advance authorization from the court of appeals, setting forth the estimated cost as a rate not in excess of $165 per 1,000 words. Counsel filing an Anders brief must arrange for adequate interpreter or translator services to inform the client of the substance of the Anders brief and the right to file a supplemental pro se brief. If a pro se supplemental brief is filed in an Anders case in a language other than English, counsel should arrange for translation and file a translated version of the brief. After interpreter or translator services have been provided, counsel should complete and submit a CJA 21 form for the court to make payment to the service provider.
When to Apply: The court will send counsel a CJA 20 voucher along with instructions when judgment is entered. The completed voucher must be filed within 60 days of entry of judgment, denial of a petition for rehearing, or the filing of a petition for certiorari, whichever is later. In cases requiring substitution of CJA counsel, the statutory maximum applies to the combined compensation paid to both attorneys. Therefore, both vouchers are submitted and reviewed after final disposition of the appeal. Vouchers must be carefully reviewed prior to submission to ensure that they do not contain errors, duplicate claims, or other improper charges. Vouchers are filed in paper form, not in electronic form.
What to Submit: Counsel must submit the CJA 20 voucher, the worksheets itemizing counsel’s services and expenses, and all receipts. Receipts are required for all travel expenses, non-office copying services, and any other expenses in excess of $50. Hotel and restaurant bills are required for lodging and meal expenses. If counsel is seeking reimbursement for a plane or train ticket that was not purchased through National Travel Service (NTS), counsel must submit a copy of the ticket or receipt and must include a statement that the ticket cost less than the government rate available through NTS. If counsel purchased a plane or train ticket through NTS, NTS will submit the claim to the court and receive direct payment.
If counsel is claiming time in excess of the aggregate limits, counsel must attach a detailed memorandum demonstrating that the case was unusually extended or complex and that excess payment is necessary for fair compensation; counsel must also submit a copy of the petition for writ of certiorari if one was filed. Counsel may use a CJA 27 Excess Compensation Statement, letter, or memorandum to justify a claim for excess compensation.
Services Claimed on CJA 21 Voucher: Payment for services of printers, legal research firms, paralegals, legal assistants, law clerks, translators, and interpreters is made on a CJA 21 voucher. Prior authorization is required if the total cost of services from all service providers will exceed $800. Regardless of total cost, authorization is also required prior to engaging any relative to perform compensable CJA services.
Records: Counsel must maintain contemporaneous time and expense records for all work performed and expenses incurred. The records must be maintained by counsel for three years because the Criminal Justice Act makes vouchers subject to audit for three years after approval of payment. Any overpayments are subject to collection, including deduction from amounts due on future vouchers.
Public Disclosure of Attorney Fee Information: After completion of the appeal, the voucher (though not the supporting documentation) will be made available in response to a public request unless counsel requested, at or before the time the voucher was filed, that public disclosure be limited to the amounts approved for payment in order to (1) protect any person's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, (2) protect the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel; (3) protect the defendant's attorney-client privilege; (4) protect counsel's work product privilege; (5) protect the safety of any person; or (6) protect any other interest that justice may require. For further information, see CJA 19 Notice to Court-Appointed Counsel of Public Disclosure of Attorney Fee Information.
Questions: Please direct any questions to Patty Layne, CJA Deputy, in the clerk’s office at 804‑916-2727. For complete CJA guidance, including historical rate information, see:
CJA 20 Worksheets (PDF)
CJA 20 Worksheets (Excel)