Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, March 27, 2002


Page 3


S.C. Provides New Payment Options for Appointed Counsel in Death Appeals


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The California Supreme Court has amended its guidelines on death penalty appeals and related habeas corpus proceedings to provide additional payment options for court-appointed counsel, the court said yesterday.

The changes were made after consultation with Habeas Corpus Resource Center Executive Director Michael Laurence, State Public Defender Lynne Coffin, and Michael Millman, executive director of the California Appellate Project, the court said. They  modify the court’s “Guidelines for Fixed Fee Appointments on Optional Basis, to Automatic Appeals and Related Habeas Corpus Proceedings in the California Supreme Court.”

The existing fixed fee payment schedule provides for six payments upon the completion of specific tasks by counsel during the course of an appeal and/or a related habeas corpus petition.

Where counsel is appointed for both habeas corpus and direct appeal, the first payment is made shortly after appointment; the second after transcript notes and a list of issues to be raised is submitted to CHRC, CAP, or other assisting counsel and a draft request for correction of the record is filed; the third after the record is corrected and filed in the high court; the fourth the opening brief is filed; and the fifth after the reply brief is filed and the habeas corpus investigation substantially completed.

The final payment is made after the habeas corpus petition is filed, except that $10,000 is withheld until clemency proceedings are completed.

The high court looked into revising the guidelines in response to attorney complaints that delays caused by circumstances outside of defense counsel’s control were impeding their ability to complete the tasks and causing cash flow problems.

The newly adopted amendments are designed to provide additional points at which counsel may seek payment of a portion of one of the six fixed fee payments.

Counsel appointed for appeal and habeas corpus will be able to collect payment in a total of 11 installments. For example, one-half of the third payment may be advanced once a motion to augment or correct the record is made in the trial court, three-quarters of the fourth payment may be advanced in three installments during the drafting of the opening brief, and one-half of the fifth payment may be advanced around the midway point of the habeas corpus investigation.

The full text of the order may be found online at


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company