Purpose of the Civil Case Pro Bono Program
The purpose of the District of Utah Civil Case Pro Bono Program is to provide access to justice for those who are unable to afford representation in civil cases. The program appoints qualified attorneys for general and limited purposes and may provide opportunities for attorneys to gain valuable litigation experience in a variety of cases from employment discrimination matters to violation of civil right claims.
DUCivR 83-1.1 Requires Active Attorneys to Accept Pro Bono Appointments
Under DUCivR 83-1.1(a)(3), active attorneys with court's bar agree to accept a reasonable number of pro bono appointments when requested by the court, except when employed by a government agency that precludes pro bono service.
A judge may order appointment of pro bono counsel either under a general or limited representation. When pro bono counsel is ordered, the Clerk's Office will identify an attorney who will accept the appointment. The attorney must file an appearance of counsel.
Reimbursement of Costs, Expenses, and Fees
Under General Order 22-017 and the Guide to Judiciary Policy, the court is authorized to use the Attorney Admission Fund to reimburse pro bono counsel for out-of-pocket expenses, payment of compensation to pro bono counsel, witness fees, and other expenses for pro se civil litigants. The court has developed form motions (see below) to simplify and expedite the process for pro bono counsel to request reimbursement.
Procedure for Requesting Reimbursement of Costs, Expenses, and Fees
A motion for reimbursement of costs, expenses and fees must be filed no later than 45 days of the withdrawal of counsel, entry of judgment, or completion of the appointment. Interim requests for reimbursement are permissible.
The appointed attorney must file the motion and a proposed order in the case. After the judge grants the motion, the Clerk of Court, as custodian of the Attorney Admission Fund, will arrange for payment.
Allowable Costs, Expenses, and Fees
Costs and Expenses -
The following cost and expenses may be reimbursed as identified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920 and General Order 22-017:
a. Fees of the clerk and marshal;
b. Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;
c. Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
d. Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;
e. Docket fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1923;
f. Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under 28 U.S.C. §1828;
g. An investigator or paralegal not to exceed $100.00 per hour;
h. Pre-authorized travel (limited to accommodations and transportation with a mileage at the rate for official government travel in effect at the time of the travel);
i. Mediation; and
j. Other preapproved costs/expenses.
Pro bono counsel may request fee reimbursement by attaching an attorney fee declaration to the motion for reimbursement of expenses, compensation, or costs. The declaration must identify the reasonableness of the fees consistent with the scope of the appointment. When the judge grants the motion, the attorney must forward the order to UTD_Civil_Probonoprogram@utd.uscourts.gov for payment.
Reimbursement for the following costs or expenses is not authorized: general office expenses; personnel costs; rent; administrative assistance; equipment costs; and costs, legal fees, and sanctions awarded against a party.
The total amount that may be reimbursed per case must not exceed $3,500, unless the chief judge and the judge who appointed pro bono counsel approve an amount more than the cap.
Repayment to the Attorney Admission Fund
Counsel must email a copy of any award or settlement document providing for payment of attorney’s fees or costs to pro bono counsel to UTD_Civil_Probonoprogram@utd.uscourts.gov. To the extent the award duplicates reimbursed amounts, the court may order repayment be made to the fund.