Skip to main content


Northern District of Texas

David C. Godbey, Chief Judge
Karen Mitchell, Clerk of Court

Chapter VII. Payment

You are here

Dallas panel members must submit a completed CJA Form 20 - Appointment of and Authority to Pay Court Appointed Counsel, if they wish to be reimbursed. Appointed counsel must use the eVoucher System throughout representation in district court. Vouchers should be submitted no later than 45 days after the final disposition of the case, unless good cause is shown. Expenses for investigators and experts must be claimed on a CJA Form 21. Any questions regarding the payment process should be directed to Tammy Shipley, at 214-753-2209.

The following is general information regarding the payment process. Payment of CJA attorneys is governed by the Criminal Justice Act and 18 U.S.C. §3006A(d) - (f).

  1. Attorney Compensation Rates
  2. Expenses Not Allowed

    Various expenses related to CJA representation are non-reimbursable. Among them are:

    1. Subpoena Expenses (including service of process, witness fees, travel costs, etc.)

      The Department of Justice must pay the witness fees in all federal criminal proceedings (28 U.S.C. § 1825). When the court orders the issuance of a subpoena pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(b), the U.S. Marshal Service (USMS) or the marshal's designee will serve the subpoena and pay the related fees.

      • The USMS requires 10 working days for service.
      • If advance witness travel funds are required, the order must specifically authorize this advance (§ 320.40.10).
      • Once you receive the order, request the clerk to provide a certified copy of it and to issue the subpoena you prepare. If you identify the certified copy request as necessary for your CJA representation, you will not be charged.
      • Present the subpoena and the certified order to the USMS in the division in which the order was filed. Do not hire a process server.
    2. General Office Overhead

      You may not claim expenses related to your rent, personnel costs, telephone or Internet service, or other general office expenses, since they are intended to be covered by the statutory hourly fee you claim. (For extraordinary expenses, refer to § 320.70.30.)

    3. Items and Services of a Personal Nature

      You may not claim any expense you incur to provide your client with new clothing, meals, snacks, cigarettes, or other personal items. You also may not claim any expenses you incur for having your client’s clothing cleaned, for your client’s haircuts, to assist with the disposition of your client’s personal property, for placement of your client’s minor children, for execution of your client’s conditions of probation or supervised release, or for any other matter unrelated to the litigation of the case, even if incidental to your client’s arrest.

    4. Filing Fees

      You may not claim any expense for a filing fee, since CJA attorneys are not required to pay a filing fee in a CJA case.

    5. Printing and Copying of Briefs

      You may not claim any expense for the printing of briefs, regardless of the method you use.

    6. Taxes

      You may not claim taxes you pay on compensation received under CJA, whether the taxes are based on income, sales, gross receipts, or any other basis.

    7. PACER fees

      You may not claim any expense for PACER fees. CJA attorneys may register for a fee-exempt PACER account here.

  3. Allowable Expenses

    Out-of-pocket expenses reasonably incurred may be claimed on the CJA Form 20, but must be itemized and reasonably documented. Expenses for meals and lodging, incurred in the representation of the defendant, constitute reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses. In determining whether actual expenses incurred are "reasonable," you should be guided by the prevailing limitations placed upon travel and subsistence expenses of federal judiciary employees in accordance with existing government travel regulations.

    Expenses for investigations or other services under subsection (e) of the Act shall not be considered out-of-pocket expenses and thus, such expenses should not be claimed on a CJA Form 20. A CJA Form 21 should be completed by the investigator or other expert (See Section VIII of this handbook). Out-of-pocket expenses include the following:

    1. Automobile Travel Expenses

    2. Airline Travel and Hotel Expenses

      1. Obtain a written Travel Authorization (form authorized by a district judge - form authorized by a magistrate judge) on court letterhead (signed by the presiding Judicial Officer) from the District Clerk's Office for each trip. You must carry a copy of the Travel Authorization during the authorized travel for identification purposes and for presentation should an airline agent ask to see it. If confidentiality is a factor, your request may be submitted to the court "ex parte, in camera," and placed under seal. Information concerning the purpose of the trip in cases requiring confidentiality may be nonspecific.

      2. After obtaining a Travel Authorization, call National Travel Service at its toll-free number (1-800-445-0668) to make your travel arrangements. Advise National Travel that you are a Panel member (or expert) providing CJA representation. National Travel will require the following "identifiers," which are listed on the Travel Authorization:
        1. District Court information
        2. Accounting information
      3. The United States District Court of the Northern District of Texas has established procedures by which Panel members and experts (persons providing investigative, expert, or other services necessary for adequate representation pursuant to the CJA) may obtain government rates for airline travel and hotel accommodations in connection with representation pursuant to the CJA. To receive the government rate, you must follow the steps listed below:

        1. Instruct National Travel where to deliver your ticket and you should request an e-ticket whenever possible.
        2. A copy of the Travel Authorization, as well as a copy of the airline tickets that were provided by National Travel, must be attached to the CJA Form 20 or 21 for audit purposes.
    3. Other Services and Computer Hardware and Software

      In addition to investigators, psychiatrists, psychologists, and reporters, services other than counsel may include but not necessarily be limited to, interpreters, computer systems and automation litigation support personnel and experts; paralegals and legal assistants, including law students; neurologists; and laboratory experts in the areas of ballistics, fingerprinting, and handwriting. Claims for compensation for such services should be submitted on CJA Form 21, "Authorization and Voucher for Expert and Other Services", or, in a death penalty proceeding, CJA Form 31, "Death Penalty Proceeding: Ex Parte Request for Authorization and Voucher for Expert and Other Services".

    4. Computer Assisted Legal Research

      The cost of use of computer assisted legal research may be allowed as a reimbursable out-of-pocket expense, provided the total amount approved does not exceed the total amount of compensation that reasonably would have been approved if you had performed the research manually. Whenever you incur charges for computer assisted legal research, attach the following to the CJA Form 20 or 21:

      1. a brief statement on the issue or issues that were the subject matter of the research;
      2. an estimate of the number of hours of attorney-time that would have been required to do the research manually; and
      3. a copy of the bill and receipt for the use of equipment 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).
    5. Miscellaneous Expenses

      Miscellaneous expenses include items such as telephone toll calls, faxes, telegrams, copying (except printing), postage, and photographs. Miscellaneous expenses in excess of $50.00 must be substantiated by proof of payment (e.g., receipts, canceled checks, invoices). A miscellaneous charge must be described specifically in order to be claimed. Claims for telephone expenses must be itemized by date, person called, and charge. Claims for in-house copying expenses may be claimed at the rate of 15¢ a copy and must be itemized by date, number of copies multiplied by 15¢, and total. For copies otherwise obtained, the cost may not exceed 25¢ a copy, and the claim must also be itemized. If the cost exceeds 15¢ a copy, a receipt must be provided. Requests for copies in the District Clerk's Office are free to Panel members.

  4. In-Court and Out-of-Court Hourly Worksheets

    The In-Court and Out-of-Court Hourly Worksheets were devised to standardize the itemization and documentation of hourly totals of services performed by court appointed counsel. For each in-court and out-of-court service rendered, provide the following:

    1. the time spent performing the service;
    2. a brief description of the service performed; and
    3. the date the service was performed;

NOTE: The time spent performing the service should be reported in tenths of an hour. For example:

.10 = 6 minutes .40 = 24 minutes .70 = 42 minutes
.20 = 12 minutes .50 = 30 minutes .80 = 48 minutes
.30 = 18 minutes .60 = 36 minutes .90 = 54 minutes
  1. Other Expenses Worksheet

    The Other Expenses Worksheet was devised to standardize the itemization of reimbursable expenses (See Section VII. B. above for an explanation of allowable expenses). For each item of "other expenses incurred" provide the following:

    1. the date the expense was incurred;
    2. a brief explanation of the expense; and
    3. the amount of expense incurred.

    Attach supporting documentation (e.g., receipts, canceled checks, and invoices) for all expenses in excess of $50.00. Receipts for lodging must be attached regardless of the amount. Expense items such as mileage and copying should show the total miles and pages, respectively, multiplied by the applicable rate, to arrive at the expense incurred. The expenses incurred should then be listed under the appropriate "other expense" category (e.g. Mileage, Parking, Meals). If copies are submitted rather than original receipts, the copies must be legible for audit purposes.

  1. Interim Payments

    Where it is considered necessary and appropriate in a specific case, the presiding trial judge may arrange for periodic or interim payments to counsel. the payment options provided in the order are designed to strike a balance between the interest in relieving court-appointed attorneys of financial hardships in extended and complex cases, and the practical application of the statutorily imposed responsibility of the chief judge of the circuit to provide a meaningful review of claims for excess compensation.


Back to Table of Contents