Interpreting services under the CJA may be compensated: 1) according to the terms and conditions set forth in the court interpreters services contract, 2) on an hourly rate basis, or 3) on another appropriate basis. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.10(a)] Interpreters should be compensated consistently throughout the district or, if applicable, in individual court locations. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.10(b)]
In determining the reasonableness of the rate paid to interpreters under the CJA, courts should utilize either (1) the half- and full-day rates established by the Director for contract court interpreters performing in-court services, or (2) an hourly rate. The half- and full-day rates (prorated hourly) or the hourly overtime rate should be used as a guidepost for the reasonableness of the hourly rate. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.20(a)]
Justification should be submitted to the presiding judicial officer if compensation is sought for an interpreter by a method different from or in an amount in excess of presumptive or maximum rates adopted by a court. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.20(b)]
An interpreter being paid under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) may not bill appointed attorneys for services provided to them during the same time period (including the time period covered by a cancellation fee), except through proration of the claims. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.30(b) and § 320.15.30(d)] "Appointed attorneys" include a federal public or community defender, CJA panel attorney, other attorney or entity authorized to obtain services under the CJA or the Defender Services appropriation, or person proceeding pro se.
Thus, an interpreter billing on an hourly-rate basis may not submit duplicate bills for work performed on more than one CJA representation furnished by an appointed attorney during the same time period. For example, an interpreter traveling to provide services for more than one person under the CJA may not bill the entire travel time on each payment claim. The time may be prorated among the representations or billed entirely to one voucher.
Similarly, if an interpreter is billing based on the rates set forth in the court interpreters' services contract (half- and full-day) and furnishes services during the same half-day for more than one person represented by (an) appointed attorney(s), the entire half-day may not be billed on multiple vouchers. Proration of the claims is permissible but expenses must be invoiced to one representation, so if services were provided for two CJA defendants, the claim for a half-day of compensation could be apportioned on two vouchers (one for each defendant, with a cross-reference to the other case) or billed entirely to one voucher. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.30(d)]
Note: The Form CJA 21 and Form CJA 31 instructions (items 3-6) provide that time must be prorated if two or more cases are heard or tried together for the person represented.
Regardless of the billing method under the CJA (hourly or half- and full-day), contract court interpreters may not charge any other federal court unit or appointed attorney for any services rendered during the same half- or full-day for which the interpreter is being compensated under the court interpreters' services contract. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.30(a)]
Proration of time among representations must not result in a service provider billing more time than would have been billed had the service provider assigned all of the time to one voucher. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 310.65.30] Thus, proration could result in time not being billed for each representation for which time was spent in common.
The interpreter must disclose to the court when travel or other work is for a purpose in addition to a CJA representation, so that the court can determine whether the time or expenses should be apportioned and the interpreter compensated for the time or expenses reasonably attributed to the CJA. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 310.65.50] Note: There is no apportionment between a contract court interpreter's work for a court unit and the CJA.
The supporting materials to all vouchers representing time spent in common on more than one CJA representation (or overlap of the half- or full-day billing period, if applicable) must explain the method of billing and indicate the number of other CJA representations involved. The CJA representations should be identified by name or case number only if the work was performed for the appointed attorney who will be certifying the voucher.
When an interpreter is invoicing under the CJA on a half-day rate basis and works on half-day for a court unit and another half-day for a CJA representation, or is invoicing two separate half-days for different CJA representations, then the first half-day should be billed at the half-day rate and the second at the difference between the half-day and full-day rates, unless otherwise negotiated. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 320.15.30(c)]
Interpreters must submit the following information with each voucher: a) the times of day for which services are being billed, and b) the number of other vouchers or claims submitted, or to be submitted, for interpreting services provided on the same date for a CJA representation or for a federal court unit, and times of service applicable to the other vouchers or claims.
See the following links for more information:
Form CJA 21 Instructions: Items 3-6.
Form CJA 31 Instructions: Items 3-6.