General Claims Information

The primary source of information on panel attorney compensation claims is the Statewide Claims Manual first published in 2019. In addition, panel attorneys must adhere to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) and Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee (AIDOAC) compensation policies on travel, habeas corpus petitions, use of associate counsel, and retaining receipts (see links at the bottom of this page). The guidance contained in the Statewide Claims Manual and in the JCC and AIDOAC policies fully applies to First District claims.

For certain topics, however, additional information is provided for Unique First District Claims Policies and Procedures. Be sure to consult those unique policies regarding: use of translators, interpreters, experts and investigators.

Panel attorneys electronically transmit their compensation claims to FDAP through eClaims. FDAP then reviews the claim and makes recommendations for the amount of hours and expenses approved. Claims are also subject to random audit by AIDOAC, which may alter the amount recommended. In unusual cases, the Court of Appeal itself may make the final decision as to compensation.

Compensation claims for work completed on a case after the California Supreme Court has granted review are not processed by FDAP and must be submitted directly to that Court. This applies both to merits grants and grant-and-hold cases.

Claims are evaluated under the compensation guidelines. The hourly rate for panel attorneys varies depending upon the type of case.

Panel attorneys bear the obligation to keep track of hours. The guidelines are neither a floor nor a ceiling on panel attorney compensation in a given case. Attorneys should only claim the amount of time actually spent on a given task. If an attorney claims above the guidelines amount and that amount is justified, full compensation may be awarded, but an explanation for hours over guidelines is needed.

A panel attorney anticipating unusual expenditures for travel or other expenses, should contact the consulting FDAP staff attorney about seeking advance approval from FDAP and/or the Court of Appeal. For example, although the guidelines permit reimbursement for expert witness expenses, it is a rare case in which such an expenditure is needed. Before hiring either an expert witness or an investigator, the panel attorney must discuss the matter with the consulting FDAP attorney and obtain pre-approval.

Panel Attorney Guidelines and Rates​

Guidelines for Panel Attorney Compensation

Attorney Time

Attorney Time CategoriesAttorney Time CategoriesGuideline
1. Communication with appellant and/or trial counsel3.5 hours
2. Record Review1.0 hour for each 50 pages of record
3. Extensions of Time0.5 hours
4. Motions to Augment1.5 hours
5. Other Motionsreasonable time
6. First Brief (Usually AOB)Statement of Case and Facts1/2 of time to review record, up to 10.0 hours
Low Simple< 4 hours
Simple4 hours
Simple to Average> 4 to < 8 hours
Average to Complex> 8 to < 13.5 hours
Complex13.5 hours
7. Unbriefed IssuesLow Simple< 0.5 hours
Simple0.5 hours
Simple to Average> 0.5 to < 2.5 hours
Average2.5 hours
Average to Complex> 2.5 to < 5.0 hours
Complex5.0 hours
8. Reply Brief1/3 of hours awarded for AOB
9. Supplemental Briefsame as First Brief guidelines
10. Review of Opposing BriefAfter substantive brief2.5 hours
10. Review of Opposing BriefAfter no-issue brief0 hours
11. Habeas Corpus Petition12.0 hours
12. Rehearing Petition6.0 hours
13. Petition for Review10.0 hours
14. Petition: Otherreasonable time
15. Petition: Read Responsereasonable time
16. Petition: Reply to Response1/3 of hours awarded for petition
17. Oral Argument;7.5 hours
18. TravelReasonable time
19. Review OpinionAfter substantive brief1.5 hours
19. Review OpinionAfter no-issue brief0.2 hours
20. Review Superior Court File2.0 hours
21. Consult with appellate projecton assisted case4.0 hours
21. Consult with appellate projecton independent case2.0 hours
22. Administrative Tasks1.0 hours
23. Other Communicationsreasonable time
24. Other Servicesreasonable time

Attorney Expenses

Expenses CategoriesGuidelines
1. Photocopyingactual cost, up to $0.10 per page
2. Brief Bindingactual cost, if reasonable and necessary; explanation required; with electronic filing, need for brief binding is very rare
3. Postage/Deliveryactual cost, if reasonable; explain if over $50
4. Telephoneactual cost; if reasonable
5. TravelActual necessary expenditures, with the limitations described in the Judicial Council’s Travel Guidelines for Court-Appointed Counsel in the Courts of Appeal
6. Court of Appeal Electronic Filing and Service Feesactual cost
7. Paralegal/Law Clerk$25 per hour
8. Translator/Interpreteractual cost, up to local prevailing rate
9. Miscellaneousreasonable cost

Hourly Rates for Panel Attorney Compensation


Type of case7/1/22 – present7/1/16 – 6/30/227/1/07-6/30/167/1/06 – 6/30/0710/1/05 – 6/30/0610/1/98 – 9/30/05
Upper Tier Independent Cases:
  • Jury trial resulting in LWOP sentence; or
  • Jury trial resulting in conviction for violating Penal Code sections 187, 208d, 220, 261-269, or 281-294; or
  • Any case where the record read was 3,000 pages or more (before or after augmentation); or
  • A people’s appeal of a motion for new trial, where one or more of the above criteria are met.
All other independent cases$120/hour10595908075
All assisted cases$110/hour9585807065

Direct Deposit Information

For information about direct deposit and for a link to the direct deposit form, visit the Judicial Council’s Court-Appointed Counsel Program webpage.

First District Policies on Expert, Investigator and Translator Expenses


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 $900, or for a higher hourly rate, must be submitted to the Court of Appeal, as described below.

The following considerations are relevant for assessing when to go directly to the Court of Appeal and when to go to FDAP first for investigator and/or expert expense approval:

More than $900 (or Higher Rate) Needed: If counsel reasonably believes from the outset that more than $900 (or a higher hourly rate) is needed, counsel should make the request directly to the Court of Appeal in the form of an ex parte application (i.e. a pleading, not a letter).

When counsel submits the request to the Court of Appeal, counsel should: (a) entitle it: “Ex Parte Application for [Investigator/Expert] Funds” and (b) address it to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal division. However, rather than submit the application to the Court of Appeal through TrueFiling, counsel should email it to FDAP, which will forward the request to the Managing Attorney at the Court of Appeal. (As an ex parte application, it will not be served on the opposing party.) The Managing Attorney, in turn, will submit the application to the Presiding Justice, who will issue an order either granting, granting in part, or denying authorization to incur the requested expenses.

No More than $900 Needed: If counsel reasonably believes that they will only need $900 or less to complete the services for the case, counsel should address the request to FDAP through the consulting staff attorney.

Uncertainty Regarding Whether More than $900 Will be Needed. The more difficult situation is where counsel reasonably believes that an initial investigation/expert expenditure of $900 or less would reach a fairly definitive point at which counsel would know either: (a) the claim under investigation was not viable and nothing further will occur; or (b) the claim appears to be viable 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 of Appeal for the further funds if the initial showing warrants it. However, the Court of Appeal does not want a situation where counsel knows they will inevitably be asking for more money but goes to FDAP first. Rather, it would be proper to go to FDAP initially, for example, 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, counsel could then go to the Court of Appeal 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, counsel could explain to the Court of Appeal what the expert has stated and then request further funding from the Court of Appeal, if necessary, for the expert’s declaration if that would take the total over $900.

As noted, there are no precise rules, but where counsel reasonably believes from the outset that they likely will need more than $900 counsel should make the initial request directly to the Court of Appeal.

Translators and Interpreters

Translation is only for correspondence and for in-person client meetings pre-approved by FDAP; no reimbursement for translating briefs, petitions and other legal documents.

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

The Judicial Council’s Master List of Interpreters includes more than a thousand certified interpreters and registered interpreters (counsel can use either kind), and their contact information. The list covers more than a dozen certified languages and many more registered languages.

The list is searchable by language and by geographic area. 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 a results list may include people who live a great distance away. An interpreter’s phone number area code might indicate where they reside.

After selecting a few interpreters from the list, counsel should:

  1. Call the interpreter and try to negotiate a rate of $30/hour. Pre-approval is not required for translation at that rate. Please remember, translation is only for letters or phone/in-person communication. Translating briefs or other legal pleadings and documents is not reimbursable. In-person visits to clients in custodial facilities , with or without interpreters, need pre-approval from FDAP.
  2. If no available interpreter will work for the $30/hour rate, the panel attorney should confer with the FDAP consulting staff attorney to request pre-approval for a higher rate, indicating what efforts were made in terms of getting names from the list, negotiating rates, etc.

If a panel attorney has a particularly good experience with a $30/hour translator, please contact FDAP and let us know. We keep a small in-house list.

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