May 19, 2019

Tenth Circuit: District Court’s Limitation of Budget for Appointed Counsel’s Sentencing Investigation Not Appealable; Requested Amounts Not Reasonably Necessary

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rojem v. Workman on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner attempts to challenge his death sentence in federal court after the state courts denied him relief in several rounds of post-conviction proceedings. The district court appointed him counsel to help him prepare his application. While Petitioner requested the court to pay for his counsel’s work on habeas issues, an extensive pre-petition investigation, and guilt-phase issues, the magistrate limited the budget to compensation for work on penalty-stage claims and minimal review of the record for background and history.  The district court affirmed, and so did the Tenth Circuit. “Because this appeal, at its core, challenges the district court’s decision regarding how much compensation to award counsel,” the Tenth Circuit does not have jurisdiction over the matter; the district court’s Criminal Justice Act fee determination is not an appealable order because the requested amounts were not reasonably necessary for the matter then before the court (issues surrounding Petitioner’s third sentencing).

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