Business of Law

Federal court clerk, 2 techs create e-billing system to speed payment to defense lawyers nationwide

A new computerized billing system expected to speed payment to indigent defense lawyers is being adopted at federal courthouses throughout the country thanks to a chief deputy clerk and two technicians at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas.

Thinking there had to be a better way than the cumbersome manual payment process formerly used, which was based on hard-copy billing, “clerical queen” Cindy Jensen began brainstorming a computerized billing program six years ago, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

Six months later, with the help of two technicians, a prototype had been developed. Today her CJA eVoucher (the CJA stands for Criminal Justice Act) is used in 18 federal courthouses in western states and, earlier this year, the director of federal courthouses announced that it would become the standard system throughout the country.

“It’s just a really good record-keeping system,” attorney Peter Schweda, who practices in Washington state and uses CJA eVoucher there, explaining that he now gets payments weeks earlier than he used to.

Jensen has “produced a program for just about every function” at the Vegas federal courthouse, her supervisor, Lance Wilson, tells the newspaper. However, she’s not done yet.

Following CJA eVoucher, her most ambitious project to date, she’s got another on the drawing board. Details are not revealed in the article.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “Coming up with new ideas–that’s what gets me all energized.”

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