The following general principles apply to requests for disclosure of information about payments made to attorneys and other service providers under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) and related statutes:
Neither the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) nor the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a) applies to the judiciary and neither is applicable to requests for release to the public of records and information pertaining to activities under the CJA and related statutes.
In general, as required by the CJA, the amounts paid to appointed CJA attorneys (or other service providers) shall be made available to the public by the court upon the court's approval of the payment. However, different procedures apply depending on the stage of the proceeding (e.g., before or during trial, after trial where appellate review is not being pursued, after trial where appellate review is being pursued, or after appellate review has concluded), the nature of the case (capital or non-capital), and the type and date of the information requested.
[18 U.S.C. § 3006A(d)(4)] [18 U.S.C. § 3006A(e)(4)] [Guide, Vol. 7, §§ 510-540]
The Guide, Vol. 7, Chapter 5 sets forth the statutory requirements and judicial policies governing the public disclosure of CJA information, describes limitations on disclosure, and specifies various procedures courts should follow to ensure that the interests and rights of the defendant and others are appropriately protected (e.g., providing reasonable notice to counsel, per the Guide, Vol. 7, § 520.30). Court personnel are encouraged to contact the Legal and Policy Branch Duty Day Attorney, Office of Defender Services (ODS), Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO), at 202-502-3020, to discuss requests for CJA payment information.
The Guide, Vol. 7, Chapter 5 discusses various forms of appropriate, limited disclosures (e.g., copies of the “top sheets” of the completed Form CJA 20/Form CJA 30 voucher, redacted or unredacted, depending on the stage of the case and applicable statutory considerations). Documentation submitted in support of or attached to payment claims need not be disclosed at any time. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 520.20]
Upon request, or upon the court's own motion, documents pertaining to activities under the CJA and related statutes maintained in the clerk's open files, which are generally available to the public, may be judicially placed under seal or otherwise safeguarded until after all judicial proceedings, including appeals, in the case are completed and for such time thereafter as the court deems appropriate. [Guide, Vol. 7, § 510.40]
Requests for release of information pertaining to CJA activities in the custody of the AO are addressed in accordance with internal directives. [Administrative Manual, Chapter IX, Subchapter Q]