performed by Ms. Alicia Haas, the official court interpreter, and
the use of an electronic amplifying device equipped with
headsets. The point is that everything had to be said twice, with
the result that the trial lasted twenty-one days.
The subject matter of the prosecution extended over a period of
time commencing in 1975 and concluding in 1978. The government's
investigation began in 1976 or 1977 and continued down to the
return of the indictment. The paper generated by the government
in its investigation was voluminous. Altogether more than 1,500
pages of written materials were produced for counsel's
examination pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3500.
Pre-trial preparations were made difficult by reason of the
fact that while certain of the defendants spoke English, the
witnesses who had to be interviewed and the preparations which
had to be made for trial were largely conducted in Spanish, with
the aid of interpreters.
Preparation was further affected by the fact that many of the
individual acts charged against defendants were said to have
occurred several years ago. Effective representation required
pain-staking reconstruction of the defendants' whereabouts and
conduct during the period in question.
The time in court reported by Ms. Mills and Messrs. Mullen,
Ford and Meyer ranges from 123 hours to 133¾. These variations
are explainable by reason of some individuality in pre-trial
motion practice. The out of court time devoted to preparation
ranges, with one exception, from 119¾ to 143 hours. These are
minor differences when one considers the problems inherent in the
preparation of this case for trial.
Ms. Martha Mills, representing Guadalupe Guzman, claims 317¼
hours in out of court preparation, the bulk of which (252½ hours)
is devoted to legal research and brief writing. Ms. Mills pressed
in behalf of her client several pre-trial motions which, while
they did not dispose of the matter, had substantial merit. I have
reviewed the motions and the briefs in light of her request and I
find that 252½ hours is not excessive in light of the complexity
and quality of work which she performed. In all other respects
her request for compensation for out of court services is
comparable with the requests of her colleagues.
The in court time is, of course, indisputable. As previously
noted, the case was on trial for 21 days, averaging 5½ hours of
trial per day, for a total of 115½ hours. Pre-trial motions,
depending upon the defendant consumed 8 to 18 hours.
Out of court preparations are remarkably reasonable. Interviews
and conferences averaged approximately 25 hours. Reviewing
records (consisting of the 1,500 pages of § 3500 material)
averaged some 35-40 hours. Research and brief writing, with the
exception of Ms. Mills, averaged about 30 hours. Altogether, with
the exception of Ms. Mills, the lawyers averaged about 120 hours
out of court in preparation to try this truly difficult and
The quality of their representation is reflected in the results
that they obtained for their respective clients. Each of their
defendants was found not guilty or the charges dismissed.
Because of the constraints of the Speedy Trial Act, each of the
lawyers was required to devote her or his principal energies to
this case from the time of appointment through trial. The case
was a "no continuance" case and the lawyers knew it. They
responded to their appointment with diligent service, reflective
of the highest standards and traditions of the Bar.
In 1964 when the Criminal Justice Act was passed, lawyers were
authorized payments in the amount of $15 per hour for in court
time and $10 per hour for out of court time. In 1970, effective
February 11, 1971, Congress increased the rates to the present
$20 per hour for out of court time and $30 per hour for in court
time. Since that increase, society — including lawyers — has
experienced an inflation rate of 100%.
When I compare the services rendered by the lawyers in this
case with the services which I see performed by lawyers in civil
cases, the contrast is enlightening. Here, in
a 21-day trial, all of the lawyers in the case executed their
tasks from beginning to end — from arraignment to judgment — in
3½ months, averaging a total of 250 hours per defendant at a
requested rate of $20 and $30 per hour.*fn1 In contrast, we have
had requests in civil cases for literally thousands of hours of
alleged services at rates ranging from $100 to $350 per hour.
Indeed, even in pro bono civil rights litigation in which fees
are determined and awarded by the court to the prevailing party
under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 or other provisions of the various civil
rights acts, we frequently have requests for fees, which we
award, at rates up to $75 per hour for several hundred hours of
out of court services and a two-day trial. Of course those fees
are paid by the losing party, not the government.
Lawyers who devote their substantial talents to the defense of
indigent persons accused of crime are entitled to equal
treatment. Unfortunately the Congress has placed and retained an
unreasonably low limit on the rate at which these lawyers may be
compensated from public funds. But certainly all of their time
should be compensated at those low rates, when close scrutiny of
that time reveals it was reasonably and necessarily spent on the
defense of the assigned, indigent defendant. To do less would be
to relegate those who defend persons accused of crime to a second
class status and to fail in our statutorily implemented Sixth
Amendment commitment to the indigent accused that they will
receive professional representation of a quality comparable to
that available to those who are able to retain experienced, able
Without any hesitation I certify that the claims of Ms. Mills
and Messrs. Ford, Mullen, Meyer and Cheronis are justified and
are necessary to provide them with fair compensation for the
excellent services they have rendered in this extended and
complex criminal litigation.