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United States v. Ibarra

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 2, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ELENA IBARRA, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES (ECF NO. 88.)

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on Elena Ibarra's ("Defendant") Request for Reimbursement of Transportation Expenses. (ECF No. 88, "Request for Reimbursement".) Defendant requests reimbursement for hotel and subsistence costs expended by counsel for Defendant while she remained in San Diego, California in order to attend trial and for transportation home after the trial ended. (ECF No. 88 at 1.) The United States of America ("Plaintiff") has filed a response in opposition to Defendant's Request for Reimbursement. (ECF No. 90.) A hearing was held on August 21, 2014. Defendant waived her appearance but was represented by her attorney, John Ellis, and the Government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Bumatay. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Request for Reimbursement.

II. BACKGROUND

On June 21, 2013, Defendant was arrested at the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint on Highway 86 near Westmorland, California for driving a vehicle loaded with 3.86 kilograms of methamphetamine. Defendant, a resident of Calexico, California, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, United States Code, § 841(a)(1) in Case No. 13-CR-2641. Defendant filed a financial affidavit indicating that she was employed as a care provider and earned approximately $200 and received $194 in food stamps per month. Finding Ms. Ibarra indigent, the Court appointed Federal Defenders, Inc. to represent Ms. Ibarra. On June 26, 2013, Ms. Ibarra was released from custody on a $10, 000 personal surety bond and returned to her home in Calexico. The case was eventually set for trial commencing on June 23, 2014.

On June 16, 2014, at the request of the Defendant, the Court issued an order directing the United States Marshal's Service to cover Ms. Ibarra's travel from Calexico to San Diego and lodging during the course of trial. (ECF No. 58.) Thereafter, on June 17, 2014, the Court filed an amended order, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4285, requiring the U.S. Marshal: (1) to provide one-way, non-custodial travel and subsistence from Calexico, California to San Diego, California in order to allow Ms. Ibarra to appear at all required court appearances; or (2) furnish her fare for such travel and subsistence by reimbursement to Ms. Ibarra upon provision of receipts. (ECF No. 61.)

Trial commenced on June 23, 2014 and concluded on June 26, 2014 when Ms. Ibarra was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. At no time prior to or during the trial did Defendant notify the Court that she was without lodging in San Diego, or ask the Court to modify its trial schedule in order to accommodate Ms. Ibarra and her proposed travel schedule. Instead, Federal Defenders arranged for Ms. Ibarra to stay at a downtown San Diego hotel at a cost of $400 and paid for Ms. Ibarra's bus ticket to El Centro. On July 11, 2014, Defendant filed the instant motion seeking reimbursement for expenses for her lodging in San Diego and for bus transportation from San Diego to Calexico.

III. DISCUSSION

The Defendant seeks reimbursement of her lodging and travel expenses based on her Fifth Amendment right to due process and equal protection and her Sixth Amendment right to present a meaningful defense. She contends that the necessary funds are available from any one of the following sources: (1) the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A; (2) the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651; or (3) the U.S. Attorney's Office. (ECF No. 88 at 4.)

A. 18 U.S.C. § 4285

18 U.S.C. § 4285 provides that when an indigent defendant is released pending a court appearance, a judge "may, when the interests of justice would be served thereby" direct the Marshal to arrange for or pay for transportation "to the place where his appearance is required" and "furnish [defendant] with an amount of money for subsistence expenses to [her] destination, not to exceed the amount authorized as a per diem allowance for travel under section 5702(a) of title 5, United States Code." § 4285 authorizes only an order directing the Marshal to transport defendants to court. It does not provide judicial authority to require payment for lodging or food during a trial. The legislative history of § 4285 authorizes the payment of subsistence expenses "for the time during which the defendant is actually travelling." See H.R.Rep. No. 95-1653, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. at 3 (1978), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1978, pp. 3732, 3733 ("Subsistence shall terminate upon arrival at the defendant's destination and shall not continue throughout the defendant's stay at that destination."). Numerous courts have concluded that § 4285 does not authorize the United States Marshals Service to provide subsistence expenses to a defendant for lodging during a trial, nor for travel back to his or her residence. United States v. Centeno, No. 09CR3120-L, 2009 WL 3334144, at *1 (S.D. Cal. 2009); United States v. James , 762 F.Supp. 1, 2 (D.D.C. 1991) ("while the statute authorizes payment to travel to the court, once at the site of the court, the statute does not authorize payment of subsistence during the course of the trial or hearing"); United States v. Haley , 504 F.Supp. 1124, 1129 (E.D.Pa.1981) ("[T]he statute does not authorize subsistence funding for defendants once they arrive at the place of trial and during trial, which could be extended."); United States v. Sandoval , 812 F.Supp. 1156, 1157 (D. Kan.1993) ("[W]hile the court may require the Marshal to provide money for subsistence during transit, this statute does not authorize the court to enter an order requiring the Marshal to provide money for subsistence upon reaching [the place of trial.]").

In this case, the Amended Order for Reimbursement complied with § 4285 and Ms. Ibarra does not claim that § 4285 provides a statutory basis to cover her expenses.

B. Reimbursement under the Criminal Justice Act

The Criminal Justice Act provides, in relevant part: "Counsel for a person who is financially unable to obtain investigative, expert, or other services necessary for adequate representation may request them in an ex parte application." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A (emphasis added). The language of § 3006A does not identify lodging or transportation as a service "necessary for adequate representation." Defendant seeks reimbursement from the Criminal Justice Act funds on the theory that ...


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