HANDBOOK FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT LAWYERS DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
Most defense counsels are solo practitioners or members of small firms. They do not employ full-time investigators. Although not every case requires investigators or experts, the need for such assistance should at least be considered. In private practice, the ability to use such resources will depend upon what clients can afford. In appointed cases, counsel can incur up to $500 for such expenses without prior approval. 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(e). Whenever possible, provide a detailed justification for an investigator and get pre-approval utilizing CJA form 21 from the court. Those requests may be ex parte and in camera.
When attorneys interview potential witnesses (particularly adverse witnesses), there is a possibility that a lawyer’s recollection will become material and relevant at trial. This can be a conflict of interest. If that likelihood is strong, requesting an investigator should be studied.