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UNITED STATES v. BRYANT

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


April 16, 1970

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Billie A. BRYANT

Gesell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: GESELL

MEMORANDUM

GESELL, District Judge.

 This was a First Degree Murder case involving the killing of two FBI agents. Defendant claimed he acted in self-defense and alternatively interposed a defense of insanity. He was convicted of both murders and given consecutive life sentences. The matter now before the Court concerns payment for extensive expert services required in Bryant's defense.

 On the issue of self-defense, ballistics proof was highly significant and the defense properly requested expert advice to check the FBI findings. Several guns and bullets were involved. H.B. White Laboratories has submitted a claim for $923.70 to cover this phase, which includes testimony by one of the Laboratories' experts.

 The insanity defense required teams of experienced psychologists and psychiatrists as well as special neurological, blood and other tests. In some instances the only available experts lived in other cities. Four doctors have submitted claims for this work ranging from $3,038.12 to $585.50, depending on the nature and amount of time involved.

 In view of the gravity of the charges and the possibility that the jury might, in the special circumstances of the case, have returned a capital verdict, the Court authorized able defense counsel to retain experts knowledgeable in these fields in order to provide full opportunity for extensive study of the physical facts and defendant's background and medical history. Numerous tests were made under carefully controlled conditions, some in consultation with the Government's experts recruited from the FBI and St. Elizabeth's Hospital. All of the defendant's experts were subpoenaed for the trial and several testified. Background material was also later provided the Court by defense psychiatrists in aid of sentencing.

 The Court has carefully examined the vouchers submitted and conferred frequently with counsel under whose direction the work was done. It is satisfied that the time logged in each instance was constructively used and necessary for the full preparation of the defense and that hourly rates are reasonable and fair.

 The amounts involved exceed sums payable under the Criminal Justice Act to such experts. 18 U.S.C. ยง 3006A. The Government urges that the $300 limitation in the Criminal Justice Act prohibits payments in excess of that amount to each claimant. This position ignores the still viable provisions of Rule 17(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Payment shall accordingly be made under this Rule for that portion of each claim which exceeds $300, the maximum payable under the Criminal Justice Act. Each claim will be honored for $300 under the Act.

 Ample authority for this action will be found in the Memorandum of Points and Authorities, appended hereto, submitted by defense counsel in support of the vouchers. The Court notes that denial of these claims would raise issues of serious constitutional proportions and that this ruling is best adapted to deal with the fiscal controversy between the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Department of Justice without having to resolve these serious constitutional questions. See Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 83 S. Ct. 814, 9 L. Ed. 2d 811 (1963); Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S. Ct. 792, 9 L. Ed. 2d 799 (1963); Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S. Ct. 585, 100 L. Ed. 891 (1956). Submit appropriate order covering the five vouchers involved totalling $6,303.27. APPENDIX UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. Criminal No. 349-69 BILLIE AUSTIN BRYANT

19700416

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