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CJA FAQ: Travel

  • I want to travel outside the state to interview witnesses – Can I do it and how do I get paid?

    (a) Compensation must be approved for time spent in necessary and reasonable travel.

    (b) Ordinarily, compensable time for travel includes only those hours actually spent in or awaiting transit. Therefore, if a trip necessarily and reasonably requires overnight lodging, compensable travel time to the destination from the claimant's office would terminate upon arrival and check-in at the hotel or other place of accommodation and would include travel time returning directly to the claimant's office from said destination.

    (c) Compensation for travel time is paid at a rate not to exceed the rate provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)  for "time reasonably expended out of court."

  • What travel expenses are permissible during case-related travel?

    Appointed counsel and other authorized service providers may be reimbursed for the actual cost of reasonably incurred travel expenses for case-related travel.  Per diem may not be claimed in lieu of the actual costs of subsistence.

    Neither the Criminal Justice Act nor the CJA Guidelines require prior court authorization for travel.  However, some local courts may require advance approval for certain expenses or distances.  See the Guide, Vol. 7, Section 230.46.  In addition, some courts have specific requirements for documentation of expenses.  Counsel may wish to seek the court’s prior authorization to ensure that their travel expenses will be fully reimbursed.

    In determining whether actual expenses incurred are “reasonable,” counsel and other authorized service providers should be guided by the limitations imposed on federal judiciary employees’ expenses, which are contained in the Judiciary Staff Travel Regulations (accessible through the court).  Those regulations provide that reimbursable expenses include subsistence (e.g., lodging and meals) and certain miscellaneous expenses (e.g., taxi fares and checked baggage fees).  Reimbursement is not authorized for excess costs, circuitous routes, and unnecessary or unjustified services.  Travelers are responsible for “additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience.”

    Where there are options for the method of transportation (e.g., driving versus flying), travelers must choose the method which will result in the greatest advantage to the judiciary, cost and other factors considered.

    Travel by privately owned vehicle should be claimed at the current mileage rate for federal judiciary employees who use private automobile for official business.  These rates may be found on the GSA website.  Parking fees, ferry fares, and bridge, road, and tunnel tolls may also be claimed.

    Reimbursement for rental car costs is permitted when the authorizing official determines that the use of a rental car is more advantageous to the judiciary than the use of a taxi, airport limousine, or other mode of transportation.  Thus, travelers should exercise prudence in the selection of the least expensive rental vehicle necessary to adequately perform the official travel.

    For guidance on the documentation that is required, see the Guide, Vol. 7, Section 230.63.10 and Section 320.80.10.

  • How is an attorney’s travel time reflected on the voucher if she visits multiple clients at one location (e.g., jail)? A service provider’s?

    While time spent in common on more than one CJA representation must be prorated, the entire amount of travel or other expenses applicable to more than one CJA representation must be billed to one representation. The supporting materials to the voucher on which the expenses are billed must cross-reference the other CJA representations. For more information see the Guide, Vol. 7, Section 230.50.

  • Can I charge for an associate’s travel time to and from court?

    Yes, appointed counsel and associate counsel can both claim the travel time

  • Is travel time by an attorney compensable under the CJA?

    Yes.  Time spent in necessary and reasonable travel related to a CJA representation is compensable.  The rate of compensation for travel time may not exceed the statutory maximum hourly rate, and compensation for travel time is ordinarily limited to those hours spent in or awaiting transit.  For more information see the Guide, Vol. 7, Section 230.60.