Rates & Guidelines

Counsel must retain documentation for expenses claimed. Documentation includes, but is not limited to, invoices, receipts, copying, mileage logs, and other records that support the expenses. Although documentation need not be submitted with a fee claim, the project or Judicial Council may request documentation with regard. To substantiate claims, the burden of proof rests with appointed counsel. For tax purposes, the California Franchise Tax Board suggests keeping such documentation for at least seven years, which would also cover audits by the California Appellate Appointed Counsel Program.


Hourly Rates for Panel Attorney Compensation

Three-Tier Categories:

$105.00 per hour for independent cases if the following criteria are met for appointments from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2016
$115.00 per hour for independent cases if the following criteria are met for appointments from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2022
$130.00 per hour for appointments in independent cases starting July 1, 2022 under any of the follows conditions:

Jury trial resulting in a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP);

Jury trial resulting in a conviction for violating Penal Code sections 187, 209(b), 220, 261-269, or 281-294;

Any case where record length exceeds 3,000 pages (before or after augmentation).

People's appeal of a motion for new trial, where one or more of the above criteria are met.

All other independent cases:
$95.00 per hour for appointments from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2016
$105.00 per hour for appointments from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2022
$120.00 per hour for appointments starting July 1, 2022

Assisted cases (including modified assist cases):
$85.00 per hour for appointments from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2016
$95.00 per hour for appointments from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2022
$110.00 per hour for appointments starting July 1, 2022


Includes letters, calls, interviews. Communication with the client or trial counsel while investigating a possible habeas corpus petition must be claimed on line 11. Consultation with SDAP should be included on line 21. Communications with the Court or the Attorney General's Office, etc. should be included on line 23. Communications with other persons (such as family members) may be compensable (on line 23) if reasonably necessary for handling the case.
2.5 hours 3.5 hours
Includes time spent reading and reviewing the record and taking notes on facts and
1.0 hour for each 50 pages 1.0 hour for each 50 pages
 3. EXTENSION(S) OF TIME   0.3 hours 0.5 hours
If multiple motions to augment are necessary, indicate the reason.  Include
rule 8.340(b) letters on line 5.
0.5 hours 1.5 hours
(i.e., Rule 8.340(b) letters, abandonment,
Fares motion, etc.)
reasonable time reasonable time
 6. OPENING BRIEF Usually 1.0 hour is recommended for preparation
of a Wende
brief in addition to compensation for the Statement of
the Case and Facts.
If you use an argument which is substantially
based on the same argument used in a prior case, you must inform
us of that fact on the Prior Briefing page in the eclaim program and describe what new work you have done.
Factors considered in evaluating the
complexity level of an issue include: (a) whether the issue
involves factual or legal complexities, novel or unsettled law,
or conceptual intricacies;

(b) the number of necessary cited authorities;

(c) the length of the argument; and

(d) the level
of complexity found by the respondent and/or Court.

of Case
and Facts
1/3 of time to review record, up to 7.0 hours 1/2 of time to review
up to 10.0 hours
Low Simple


Simple to Average


Average to Complex


< 2.5 hours

2.5 hours

> 2.5 to < 5.5 hours

5.5 hours

> 5.5 to < 9.0 hours

9.0 hours

< 4.0 hours

4.0 hours

> 4.0 to < 8.0 hours

8.0 hours

> 8.0 to < 13.5 hours

13.5 hours

1 Counsel may bill for an unbriefed issue if a reasonably experienced appellate lawyer would need to perform work to determine if a viable issue existed. If a settled rule is dispositive, compensation will not be awarded if a reasonably experienced appellate lawyer should have known the rule without conducting research.

2. Unbriefed issues are not simply possible questions that you thought about and rejected. Tto be compensable, an unbriefed issue must involve legal research or the application of legal principles to the record if you are already familiar with the controlling legal principle.

3. An unbriefed issue is a question that raises sufficient concern to merit either: (1) some research (checking of case law, statutes, or other authority); or (2) the application of already known legal principles by examining the record to see if an issue exists. An example of category 2 would be the application of known cases regarding the Miranda rule to review of Evidence Code section 402 hearing and Miranda motion ruling.

4. The more you help the reviewer by articulating information regarding the work you did to reject the issue, the more likely you will be paid for that work. Thus, it would be wise to include a reference to the specific authority or authorities you consulted prior to rejecting the issue. This process significantly helps to distinguish true unbriefed issues from rejected thoughts.

5.Sufficiently explain the possible relationship between the issue and the case to provide the reviewer an understanding whether your consideration of the issue wasa reasonable. Reading your brief may not be sufficient to help the reviewer understand how appropriate it was to investigate the issue, especially if the issue in of related to the brief's main thrust.

  Low Simple


to Average


to Complex


< 0.2 hours

0.2 hours

> 0.2 to < 0.5

0.5 hours

> 0.5 to < 2.5

2.5 hours

< 0.5 hours

0.5 hours

> 0.5 to < 2.5 hours

2.5 hours

> 2.5 to < 5.0 hours

5.0 hours

 8. REPLY BRIEF 1/3 of hours awarded for AOB 1/3 of hours awarded for AOB
Includes letter briefs.
same as Opening Brief same as Opening Brief
Includes briefing from the Attorney General and all other adverse parties where appropriate.  Each party must be identified.  Assign
review of co-appellants' briefs to line 24.
  After substantive brief

   After Wende or other no-issue brief

1.0 hours

0.0 hours

2.5 hours

0.0 hours

Issues will be evaluated using the standards in line 6. Include all time for preparing a petition or investigating whether to file one, even if one is not filed. This line should include communication with the client or trial attorney focused on the investigation of potential habeas-related facts or the development of a habeas issue. However, time spent providing the client general information, such as how a habeas petition works or the reasons for not filing one, should be listed on line 1. Communication with other people connected with the investigation or development of potential habeas claims should be listed here, not line 23. Investigation and work with investigators should be entered here, not line 24. Motions related to habeas work, such as a motion for investigation fees, should be listed here, not line 5. The explanation field for line 11 should include a breakdown of the time spent on each of these tasks, as well as the expenses incurred from the investigation.
8.0 hours 12.0 hours
4.0 hours 6.0 hours
Little compensation will be approved for a petition for review that simply "recycles" all or part of the AOB. 
5.5 hours 10.0 hours
Issues will be evaluated using the standards on line 6. Compensation for petitions for writ of certiorari may require preapproval
from the project.
Check first with the project.
reasonable time reasonable time
 15. PETITION: READ RESPONSE reasonable time reasonable time
 16. PETITION: REPLY TO RESPONSE 1/3 of hours awarded for petition 1/3 of hours awarded for petition
Includes letters waiving or requesting argument, preparation,
actual time in argument before the Court, and necessary waiting
time in the courtroom.  Indicate if argument is telephonic
or video-conferenced.
5.0 hours 7.5 hours
Time is compensable where the distance from counsel's office exceeds 25 miles one-way, and where counsel cannot reasonably work on the case while traveling.
Many expenses must be pre-approved by the project director. Compensation
is based on the most economic means of travel reasonably available.
Indicate where you traveled from and to, the purpose, date and time. Time spent waiting at airports or in the air is not compensable as travel.
 19. REVIEW OPINION After substantive brief

 After Wende brief

1.0 hours

0.2 hours

1.5 hours

0.2 hours

Includes review of exhibits.
1.0 hours 2.0 hours
 21. CONSULT WITH PROJECT  On "assisted" case

  On "independent" case

1.0 hours

0.5 hours

4.0 hours

2.0 hours


Includes time for administrative tasks for appointments on or after 10/1/04. Compensation for administrative time is awarded only in the final claim.

1.0 hours 1.0 hours

Itemize the service rendered and time spent for all communication other than with the client or trial counsel.

reasonable time reasonable time

Itemizing the service rendered and time spent is required for all other services but which do not include communication.

reasonable time reasonable time
Do not include time spent or cost of copying cases or statutes (including in-house, through a computer service, or at a library).  Extensive copying of the file and/or transcripts for the client is normally not compensable, except for short transcripts in Wende cases.  Check with the project first if copying exceeds 200 pages.

If the superior court provides the record only in digital format, counsel will not be reimbursed for the cost of printing the record for the client unless (1) the attorney requested a print copy and the superior court declined to provide it (or the superior court has a standing policy of only providing digital) and (2) the client is unable to receive the record electronically. Moreover, in addition to the circumstance when the client can receive the record electronically, there may be additional circumstances when it is not necessary or appropriate to print a digital record and ship it to the client, such as when the client does not want the record or where the client is unlikely to actually receive it. Accordingly, in such or similar circumstances, in order to ensure reimbursement, it is recommended that counsel consult with the appellate project before printing a digital record and shipping it to a client. Whether it is reasonable and necessary to print a digital record for shipping to the client will depend on a number of factors. In some districts consultation with the appellate project may be required or recommended prior to printing a digital record for shipment to the client.

Scanning a Paper Record: Counsel will not ordinarily be compensated for their time or reimbursed for the cost of scanning a paper record. If counsel believes special circumstances warrant compensation or reimbursement for this task, they should consult with the appellate project prior to spending the time or incurring the expense.

actual cost, up to $0.10 per page
 2. BRIEF BINDING, ETC. The need for brief binding was eliminated by electronic filing, and thus it will not generally be compensated except in exceptional circumstances. Reasonable cost of binding in old cases where filings occurred before TrueFiling will be compensated.
Include actual cost of ordinary means of delivery.  Explain any unusual circumstances
(not appointed counsel's personal needs),
that justify use of express mail, messenger or attorney service,
personal delivery, or any other extraordinary means of delivery.
actual cost, if reasonable
Do not include regular service charges or local calls.
actual long distance cost; if reasonable. It may include cost of collect calls from clients.
Based on State rates.
The state will compensate for the least expensive and most efficient travel modes . For instance, if a panel attorney chooses to drive to a destination but it is less expensive to fly, the attorney will be reimbursed only for the cost of flying. The attorney may provide to the project an Internet map printout showing the mileage from the departure location to the destination location and a copy of an airfare estimate.
For all travel expenses, indicate the date, time, and location of expense and purpose of trip. Do not include travel or parking that is related to library visits or other research sites. Consult with project in advance to obtain pre-authorization from the project director or assistant director for prison visits where the round trip will be over 50 miles, as well as for any overnight expenses.
Carfare and parking expenses should be minimized. Use of a taxi will not reimbursed unless it is shared and the expense is less than the cost of a shuttle. If you use a taxi, you will be reimbursed only up to the cost of the least expensive form of travel. Parking is reimbursed based on the least costly parking method. Airport parking reimbursement would be based on the least expensive long-term parking lot and never on valet parking. Rental cars are not reimbursed unless their use is unavoidable. In general, reimbursement will be based on the round-trip mileage at $0.485 per mile. Use of a rental car must be pre-approved by the project director or assistant director.

For travel from out of state, expenses are computed from the California border using the least expensive travel mode, except where travel from a more distant location is less expensive (e.g., a discounted direct flight from Chicago to San Diego might cost less than flights from Reno or Las Vegas to San Diego)

Copies of receipts should be preserved, as the appellate project may request them to verify the claimed costs.

Actual necessary expenditures,
with the following limitations:
- Use of personal car (you must indicate mileage, the beginning and ending location, and the purpose): $.485 per mile for travel starting 1/1/07 (regardless of the date of appointment) if the appointment was before 1/1/17; $0.50 per mile for appointments after 1/1/17.-Lodging. Must be pre-approved by the project director. Compensation is for the most reasonable lodging available, up to $110 (or $140 in Alameda, San Francisco,
San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties after 1/1/02; $150 for San Francisco and $120 for Monterey, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura for appointments after 1/1/17)
plus tax and fees per evening for lodging; use free hotel shuttle if available. For appointments after 1/1/17, up to $150 in San Francisco
-Meals (reimbursed only for overnight trips): Up to $6.00 for breakfast; up to $10.00 for lunch; up to $18.00 for dinner. For appointments after 1/1/17: up to $8.00 for breakfast, up to $12 for lunch, and up to $20 for dinner.
-Shuttles (each way) and parking (at long-term lots) at court-location airports: SFO (1DCA) up to $19 for shuttle, $14 plus tax for parking; LAX (2DCA) up to $16 for shuttle, $9 plus tax for parking; Sacramento (3DCA) up to $14 for shuttle, $9 plus tax for parking; San Diego (4DCA, Div. 1) up to $15 for shuttle, $10 plus tax for parking; Ontario (4DCA, Div. 2) up to $39 for shuttle, $10 plus tax for parking; John Wayne (4DCA, Div. 3) up to $16 for shuttle, $8.75 plus tax for parking; Fresno (5DCA) up to $20 for taxi, $8 plus tax for parking; San Jose (6DCA) up to $19 for shuttle, $13 plus tax for parking.
Electronic filing fees should be billed on line 6, not on line 9.
actual cost
Itemize hours, hourly rate, and activity.  Paralegal and law clerk work is expected to reduce an attorney's time .  Thus, if attorney time is over Guidelines for a specific activity, no paralegal or law clerk expense for that activity will be approved. Secretarial work, including typing and formatting briefs, is not compensable.
$25 per hour
Translator or interpreter fees may require pre-approval by the project.  See our general claims information.
Do not include costs of translating briefs or other pleadings. The Court does not compensate for these costs.
actual cost, up to local prevailing rate. In the Sixth District, any amount over $250 must be approved by the court of appeal.
Itemize and explain costs of experts, investigators, certification fees, etc.
Do not include administrative or overhead costs such as secretarial work or library upkeep.  Payment for experts and investigators require pre-approval by either the project or the court of appeal. 
reasonable cost
Scroll to Top