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Unique First District Compensation Claims Policies and Procedures

Investigators/Experts

FDAP is authorized to approve, in appropriate cases, requests for funds up to $900 for investigator and/or expert services (as long as the expenses are also within the approved rates of $65/hour for investigators and $125/hour for experts). Requests for more than that amount, or for a higher hourly rate, must be submitted to the Court of Appeal, as described below.

A few points in connection with the question of when to go directly to the court, and when to go to FDAP:

-If you reasonably believe from the outset that you will need more than $900 (or that you are requesting expenses at a higher rate), you should make the request directly to the court in the form of an ex parte application (i.e. a pleading, not a letter).

When you submit the request to the court, you should: (a) entitle it: “Ex Parte Application for [Investigator/Expert] Funds;” (b) address it to the Presiding Justice of the division; and (c) email it, however, directly to FDAP, which will forward the request to the Managing Attorney at the Court of Appeal. (As an Ex Parte application, you would not serve the Attorney General.) The Managing Attorney, in turn, will submit the application to the Presiding Justice, who will issue an order either granting or denying authorization to incur the requested expenses.

-If you reasonably believe that you will only need $900 or less to complete the services for your case, you should make the request to FDAP.

-The more difficult situation is where you reasonably believe that an initial investigation/expert for less than $900 would reach a fairly definitive point at which you would know either: (a) it did not pan out and nothing further will occur; or (b) it did pan out and there are now clear follow-up steps that will be needed which will bring the total cost above $900. In that situation, it is proper to bring the initial request to FDAP, and then subsequently go to the court for the further funds if the initial showing warrants it. However, the court does not want a situation where you know you will inevitably be asking for more money, but go to FDAP first to try to get your foot in the door. Rather, it would be proper to go to FDAP initially, e.g., in the following types of situations:

(1) There was an alleged favorable witness who was not called at trial; the request is to FDAP to send an investigator, for less than $900, to find the witness. If the witness is not found, or if the witness is found but not helpful, that would be the end of it. If the witness is found, and based on statements from the witness there are now new leads, you could then go to the court for additional funds based on what the initial investigation had shown.

(2) An expert will, for less than $900, review some materials (e.g. appellant's medical records). If the review does not result in anything beneficial, that would be the end of it. If the review is positive, you could explain to the court what the expert has told you verbally and then request further funding from the court, if necessary, for the expert's declaration if that would take the total over $900.

As noted, there are no precise guides, but where you reasonably believe from the outset that you likely will need more than $900 you should make the initial request directly to the court.


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Use of Translators

BASICS

-Translation is only for correspondence and for FDAP-pre-approved prison visits; no reimbursement for translating briefs, petitions and other legal documents.

-The rate for translation is up to $30/hour, unless the court pre-approves a higher rate.

-The Judicial Council website (below) is a good source for finding possible translators.

DETAILS

A good source of translators is Judicial Council's Master List of Interpreters. The list includes more than a thousand "certified" interpreters and "registered interpreters" (you can use either kind). The list covers eight "certified" languages and dozens of "registered" languages.

The list is searchable by language and by geographic area. It will give you the phone number of the interpreter. However, the county search refers to the county in which the interpreter is willing to work; most of the interpreters indicate they will work in all counties, so your list may include people who live in Los Angeles, etc. If you prefer an interpreter who lives in a local county, you can look at their work/home phone numbers and figure out who's local.

Once you have selected a few interpreters from the list, you should:

1. Call the interpreter and try to negotiate a rate of $30/hour. The standard trial court interpreter rates is higher, so it may well be possible for you to negotiate a $30/hour rate. You do not need pre-approval for translation at that rate. Please remember, translation is only for letters or phone/in-person communication. It is not permissible to be reimbursed for translating briefs or other legal pleadings and documents. In-person prison visits, with or without interpreters need pre-approval from FDAP.

2. If you cannot negotiate a $30/hour rate, check with your FDAP consulting attorney to request pre-approval for a higher rate. You should indicate what efforts you have made in terms of getting names from the list, negotiating rates, etc.

If you have a particularly good experience with a $30/hour translator, please call our office and let us know. We will keep a small in-house list and, over time, you may wish to call initially to see if we have any recommended translators for your specific language.

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