Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MILLS v. UNITED STATES

September 10, 1982

MARTHA MILLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Flaum, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on a motion for summary judgment by defendant United States of America (the "Government") and a cross motion for summary judgment by plaintiff Martha A. Mills ("Mills") made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the reasons set forth below, the Government's motion for summary judgment on the complaint is granted and Mills' cross motion is denied.

The pertinent facts of this case are as follows:

The Criminal Justice Act of 1964 (the "Criminal Justice Act"), 18 U.S.C. § 3006A (1976), provides that an attorney appointed pursuant to its provisions, or the organization supplying the attorney so appointed, shall "be compensated at a rate not exceeding $30 per hour for time expended in court or before a United States magistrate and $20 per hour for time reasonably expended out of court, or such other hourly rate, fixed by the Judicial Council of the Circuit, not to exceed the minimum hourly scale established by a bar association for similar services rendered in the district." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(1) (1976). On December 18, 1981, the Judicial Council of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (the "Judicial Council"), acting on a recommendation by the Bar Association of the Seventh Federal Circuit (the "Seventh Circuit Bar Association"), increased the maximum fees to $55 per hour for time spent in court or before a magistrate and $45 per hour for out-of-court time.

Mills, an attorney engaged in the private practice of law, is a panel attorney in the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois who accepts court appointments under the Criminal Justice Act. In that capacity, on January 8, 1982, Mills was appointed to represent Stanley Dobbs ("Dobbs"), a defendant in a criminal case pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She subsequently submitted a request for the sum of $127.50 for time spent representing Dobbs which was computed on the basis of the hourly rates set by the Judicial Council on December 18, 1981. The United States magistrate before whom Mills appeared approved this request, and it was submitted to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (the "Administrative Office") for processing and payment.

The Administrative Office, claiming that the Judicial Council lacked the authority to raise the hourly rates to $55 and $45, respectively, refused to pay the full amount of $127.50. In a letter to Mills dated February 18, 1982, R.E. Moreland, Chief of the Audit Branch, Financial Management Division, of the Administrative Office, stated "It is the position of this office that we do not have the authority to reimburse attorneys for services provided defendants proceeding under the Criminal Justice Act in excess of those maximum hourly rates prescribed by the Act. We are bound by the statutory maximum of $30 per hour for in-court service and $20 per hour for out-of-court service as specified in 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(1)."

On February 22, 1982, Mills filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, alleging the jurisdiction of the district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2) (1976 & Supp. II 1978). In her complaint Mills asks the court to order the Government to pay her the sum of $127.50 as the compensation due for services rendered in representing Dobbs and award her the cost of this action, including reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (1976 & Supp. IV 1980).

Mills bases her position on the premise that the "not to exceed" language of the Criminal Justice Act does not make existence of a bar association minimum fee schedule a condition precedent to a rate adjustment. She sets forth three reasons as to why she reaches this conclusion: (i) that the language of the statute does not require that a bar association minimum exist; (ii) that Congress knew how to draft mandatory language; and (iii) that nothing in the statute requires a local bar association to exist in every court district or, if it does exist, to have a minimum fee. She also cites several principles of statutory construction and the legislative history of the Criminal Justice Act to support her position. In addition, Mills contends that even if existence of a bar association fee schedule were a condition precedent, the Judicial Council, in acting upon the recommendation of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association, satisfied this requirement.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Id. Since no dispute as to a material fact is being raised by the parties, and the court finds none, it is appropriate to decide this case as a matter of law. See Illinois Migrant Council v. Campbell Soup Co., 438 F. Supp. 222, 225 (N.D.Ill. 1977), rev'd on other grounds, 574 F.2d 374 (7th Cir. 1978).

The basic issues presented in this case are: (i) whether the existence of a bar association fee schedule is a condition precedent to a judicial council raising the hourly compensation to attorneys representing defendants pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act and (ii) if existence of such a fee schedule is a condition precedent, how this requirement is affected by the United States Supreme Court decision of Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773, 95 S.Ct. 2004, 44 L.Ed.2d 572 (1975), in which a bar association minimum fee schedule was held to be within the reach of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 (1976).

As Mills accurately points out in "Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Her Motion for Summary Judgment", the starting point in construing a statute is the statute itself. See Greyhound Corp. v. Mt. Hood Stages, Inc., 437 U.S. 322, 330, 98 S.Ct. 2370, 2375, 57 L.Ed.2d 239 (1978); Chicago Transit Authority v. Adams, 607 F.2d 1284, 1289 (7th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 946, 100 S.Ct. 2175, 64 L.Ed.2d 802 (1979). However, her contention that it is clear from the language of the Criminal Justice Act that a bar association fee schedule need not exist in order for a judicial council to raise attorney's fees is not accepted. Indeed, the more persuasive argument is that this language contemplates that a fee schedule will exist. Accordingly, to determine how the statute should be construed, it is helpful to consider the legislative history of the Act and general rules of statutory interpretation.

The Criminal Justice Act, passed by Congress in 1964, originally provided that the hourly fee for representing a defendant could not exceed $15 for time in court or before a U.S. commissioner and $10 for out-of-court time. See Criminal Justice Act of 1964, Pub.L.No.88-455, § 2, 78 Stat. 552 (1964). In 1970 an amendment (the "1970 Amendment") was enacted which included the substitution of the fee provision in question in this case in place of the original provision. See Pub.L.No. 91-447, § 1, 84 Stat. 916 (1970), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(1) (1976).

The legislative history of the 1970 Amendment indicates that the revisions originally proposed by the Senate and submitted to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives would have raised the hourly compensation for all attorney time to $30. See H.R.Rep.No. 1546, 91st Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1970 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad.News 3982. The House Judiciary Committee rejected this approach and reinserted the distinction between court and non-court time. It also added the provision that a judicial council could modify the hourly rate "not to exceed the minimum hourly scale established by a bar association for similar services rendered in the district." Id.; 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(1) (1976).

The revised bill was managed in the House of Representatives by Representative Robert William Kastenmeier of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.