Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Second Most Unkind Cut

In an unpublished opinion, the Virgin Islands Supreme Court remanded in a matter where counsel had his compensation for court-appointed services reduced by the trial judge

Upon a review of the appellant’s brief, it is clear that the gravamen of Appellant’s claim is that the Superior Court judge who reviewed his request for compensation and reimbursement “for no apparent reason, reduced the out of court time from 119.6 hours to exactly 60.0 hours” and that Appellant “ha[s] not been given any explanation as to why the out of court time has [been] reduced by almost exactly 50%.” (Appellant’s Br. 8.) The amended Rule 210.4, however, expressly provides that if a judge rejects the payment in request in whole or in part, that the judge shall state the reasons for doing so in an accompanying order. V.I. S. CT. R. 210.4(c). This is consistent with prior decisions of this Court, which require the Superior Court to provide enough information on the record so as to enable this Court to meaningfully review its decisions, including sufficiently explaining the basis of its decision.


ORDERED that the Superior Court’s June 30, 2016 order is VACATED, and that this matter is REMANDED to the Superior Court for issuance of a new decision on the request for compensation and reimbursement, which shall be governed by the procedure set forth in Rule 210, as amended.

This once happened to me as told in this opinion authored by Circuit Judge Spottswood Robinson.

For these reasons, counsel's request for reconsideration of his excess-compensation request will be transmitted to the panel for consideration as an application for rehearing.

Eventually the compensation was increased a bit but the taste remains bitter after 40 year where my  voucher for over $13,000 had been reduced to $1,000.

I represented my client in an appeal from a 15-week trial as a partner in a two-lawyer firm and got paid at roughly a McDonalds rate for hundreds of hours of work. 

Following a four-month jury trial  on an indictment charging unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, interstate travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise, and conspiracy to distribute narcotic drugs, the seven appellants were convicted. Central to the charges was a six-year multi-state drug conspiracy centered in Washington, D. C.

(Mike Frisch)

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