FAQs FDAP Operations

Are there resources available to panel attorneys to address financial hardships caused by the pandemic? caret

Yes. This is a rapidly evolving crisis, and local, state and federal governments are scrambling to help those suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic. We will strive to keep you informed about relief that may be available to panel attorneys, and to do our part to help you through these uncertain times. Below are short blurbs on some of the relief available:

interim claims

See the previous FAQ regarding procedures for additional interim claims to supplement the standard post-AOB interim claim.

Unemployment Benefits

In California, independent contractors (i.e. those who receive 1099 income) are currently only eligible for unemployment benefits under very limited circumstances. Congress granted some relief in the CARES Act, which included a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. According to the Department of Labor, “PUA provides benefits for eligible individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for UI benefits under state or federal law. “

Stimulus Payments

Panel attorneys may qualify for a one-time stimulus payment. According to the IRS, “Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.” The payments are reduced for higher earners.

Student Loan Relief

The CARES Act pauses federal student loan payments with no interest through September 30. It even allows refunds for payments made on or after March 13. Check with your lender to determine your eligibility.

Are additional interim claims now permitted? caret

Yes. In this time of delayed records and fewer new appeals, the appellate projects and the Judicial Council have agreed upon procedures for additional interim claims to supplement the standard post-AOB interim claim. The policy is in effect through the end of the fiscal year, i.e. June 30, 2021. Hopefully this will ease some of the financial challenges.

As detailed in a Memorandum from all the projects to panel attorneys,

  • a pre-AOB early interim claim is now permitted where
    • the record on appeal exceeds 1,500 pages, or
    • where counsel has been waiting for an augmented or corrected record longer than 90 days.

NOTE: only record review time can be claimed on such a pre-AOB interim claim,

and

  • an additional interim claim can be submitted after the Reply Brief is filed

Note: only Reply Brief time (line 8) and Review of Opposing Brief time (line 10) can be added in a post-reply brief interim claim.

We recognize that there may be circumstances of hardship not covered by these new procedures, such as when there has been substantial work on a habeas corpus petition or substantial supplemental briefing. If (1) a substantial number of hours are involved; (2) you are experiencing actual financial hardship (e.g. you cannot pay bills), and (3) there will be substantial delay before you can submit the final claim, consult the assigned FDAP staff attorney. In rare circumstances we can then seek prior approval from the JCC for either an interim claim not covered by the new policies, or a broader-in-scope post-reply brief interim claim.

Are compensation claims being processed? caret

FDAP’s systems allow us to process claims remotely. The Judicial Council’s Court Appointed Counsel Program office will remain in operation, and has developed processes to review and approve claims remotely. The JCC is coordinating with accounting staff to process attorney payments through the State Controller’s Office. The JCC has assured us that claims will continue to be processed.

I’m a panel attorney, can I request a case? caret

Unfortunately, we are not accepting case requests at the moment, and probably won’t again until the Court emergencies end. The flow of cases and/or transcripts will likely be slowed due to court closures and court staff working reduced schedules. All panel attorneys will be impacted and there is no need to inform us you are available for or need work.

I’m a panel attorney. Will transcripts be delayed and will there be fewer appointments? caret

Unfortunately,

Unfortunately, we do expect a slowdown in the short term. Superior courts are working with reduced staffs. We anticipate this will result in delays to various processes, including the processing of new notices of appeal, the preparation and shipping of transcripts, and the holding of new sentencing and dispositional hearings. We will do our best to ensure that we move along as much work as possible, but some slowdown will be inevitable.

The California Supreme Court’s statewide order suspending all jury trials for 60 days has expired, but be prepared for extended effects on workflow. Courts across California are implementing a variety of measures to operate safely, with many counties postponing or significantly limiting jury trials and other proceedings.

Can I ship a transcript or other document to FDAP? caret

Please do not ship anything to FDAP without first contacting a staff member. With no daily staff in the office, our ability to process paper documents is limited and slow. In addition, once mail arrives at the office, it would need to be shipped to the staff member’s home. Please send us all documents electronically. While we do not have DropBox, arrangements can be made to transfer larger items through Google Docs, if necessary.

Can my incarcerated family member or friend reach FDAP? caret

As of April 28, 2020, we have a new phone system in place and it accepts collect calls from prisons and jails. The main number is answered by a live receptionist who can forward calls to any staff member, even if they are working remotely.

Although we are not in the office, we are able to pick up mail, which is scanned and shared electronically with the intended recipient.

How do I reach FDAP Staff? caret

All employees have remote access to our system and can be reached via email during regular business hours. If you feel a phone call to a staff attorney or other staff member (e.g. claims processor) is necessary, please email the staff member directly and they can arrange to call you back.

As of April 28, 2020, we have a new phone system in place. The main number is answered by a live receptionist who can forward calls to any staff member, even if they are working remotely.

Is FDAP open and operational? caret

Although our offices in Oakland are closed, FDAP staff has been working remotely since Tuesday, March 17. Staff members are connected to our computer network and email, and continue to work. Some tasks related to paper documents are impeded, but we have designed systems to adapt to the new challenges.

^