Policy for Reimbursement of Out-of-Pocket Expenses Incurred by Court-Appointed Pro Bono Counsel

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I.     Background

The United States District Court for the Central District of California has created a “Pro Bono Panel” of private law firms that have volunteered to make attorneys available for appointment to represent pro se parties in Central District cases.

An attorney appointed by the Court to represent a party pro bono may incur significant out-of-pocket expenses for experts, depositions, and other fees paid to third parties during the course of the representation.  The Court has therefore adopted procedures by which a Court-appointed attorney providing pro bono representation may obtain reimbursement for such expenses.

II.    Eligible Cases/Attorneys

Any attorney appointed by the Court to represent a previously pro se party in any civil case pending in the Central District (“Pro Bono Attorney”) may seek reimbursement pursuant to this policy.

III.   Reimbursable Expenses Associated with Pro Bono Representation

A.  Standard to Recover Out-of-Pocket Expenses

The Court will reimburse covered out-of-pocket expenses to the extent they are reasonable, necessary, and otherwise not recoverable, as set forth herein.  The appropriateness of reimbursements will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

B.  Covered Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses made to third parties for services include, but are not limited to:  service of process, filing fees, expert consultations, witness fees, interpreter services, photographs, and deposition costs not reimbursed pursuant to the State of California’s Transcript Reimbursement Fund (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 8030.2, et seq.).  Depending on the circumstances, fees paid to copy services for the production of documents during discovery may or may not be recoverable.

C.  Non-Covered Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Internally generated costs are not reimbursable.  For example, costs of computer-assisted research, internal photocopying and/or printing of documents, and overhead costs, such as telephone service, are not reimbursable.

D.  Limitations

1.  Case Maximum

 The total reimbursement of covered expenses should not exceed $10,000.00 per case.

2.  Exceptions

The Attorney Admission Fund Board has the discretion to approve reimbursement of more than $10,000.00 in a single case upon an adequate showing of good cause. 

IV. Procedure for Recovering Out-of-Pocket Expenses

A Pro Bono Attorney seeking to recover out-of-pocket expenses must complete a “Request for Reimbursement of Out-of-Pocket Expenses” form.  Please review the Court’s Procedures For Recovering Out-of Pocket Expenses for more detailed instructions.

V.    Judgment or Settlement Resulting in Recovery of Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, any out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed under this policy must be repaid to the Attorney Admission Fund when a judgment, settlement, or award of costs results in a monetary award to the party represented pro bono.  This repayment must be made prior to any disbursement to counsel, the plaintiff, or any other person.

VI. Management of Funds

The funds for reimbursement are provided by the Central District’s Attorney Admission Fund.  Forms authorizing reimbursement are to be signed by the staff attorney who manages pro bono appointments on behalf of the Court (“Staff Attorney”) and forwarded for payment to the Clerk of Court. 

 (Revised 9/1/2015)