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United States of America v. Lilian Maritza Yaggi-Velasco

June 24, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
LILIAN MARITZA YAGGI-VELASCO, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner, United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on three ex parte motions *fn1 of court-appointed defense counsel seeking payment in full of five vouchers submitted to the court seeking legal fees and costs for representing his client in this criminal case. I approved payment of the first voucher in full, and payment in part of the second and third vouchers. I denied payment of the fourth and fifth vouchers, which once again sought payment of those portions of the second and third vouchers, respectively, which were denied. For the reasons articulated below, I deny each motion.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 9, 2009, defendant Lilian Maritza YaggiVelasco was charged in a one-count Indictment with illegal re-entry after deportation in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). Specifically, the Indictment alleged that defendant is an alien and native and citizen of Guatemala who, having previously been deported, was found in the United States on August 4, 2009 without securing from the Attorney General of the United States or his successor, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the required permission to apply for readmission to this country.

On September 16, 2009, United States Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin appointed Albert J. Raman, Esquire to serve as counsel for defendant. On September 18, 2009 Attorney Raman filed an Entry of Appearance on behalf of defendant.

On January 25, 2010 defendant and her counsel appeared before me, and defendant pled guilty to the Indictment.

On May 17, 2010 I sentenced defendant to a term of six months incarceration, followed by twelve months of supervised release, and directed her to pay a special assessment of $100.00.

In connection with this case, Attorney Raman submitted a series of five vouchers requesting payments for his legal services, costs and expenses in the total amount of $27,936.22. In a series of Orders disposing of each voucher *fn2 , I authorized payments in the total amount of $14,673.97 for part of the legal fees, and all of the expenses, sought by defense counsel.

Subsequent to my Orders, Attorney Raman filed the three motions enumerated above, seeking payment of that portion of his fee requests which had been denied. As suggested by the Guide to Judiciary Policy *fn3 , I provided defense counsel an opportunity to address with me the matter of the reduction of his claim for legal fees, which defense counsel took advantage of by meeting with me in my Philadelphia chambers and discussing it on June 21, 2011.

At that meeting I briefly advised Attorney Raman of the reasons why I reduced his claim for counsel fees, consistent with the discussion in this Opinion, including the statutory $9,700.00 per case maximum compensation for a non-felony case such as this.

I gave him an opportunity to support his request for further payment beyond this cap by explaining to me why and how the case involved the need for extended or complex representation and by indicating to me in what respect the legal and factual issues in the case were unusual, thus requiring the expenditure of more time, skill and effort by the lawyer than would normally be required in an average case.

For the reasons articulated below, I conclude that the additional fees sought are not authorized by the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3600A ("CJA"), and are unreasonable. Accordingly, I deny each motion.

DISCUSSION

At issue in this matter are the requests of court-appointed criminal defense counsel Albert J. Raman for payment of legal fees sought under the Criminal Justice Act. The ...


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