Order No. 975-82, 47 FR 15776, Apr. 13, 1982, unless otherwise noted.
These rules are adopted by the Department of Justice pursuant to section 504 of title 5, U.S. Code, as amended by section 203(a)(1) of the Equal Access to Justice Act, Public Law No. 96-481. Under the Act, an eligible party may receive an award for attorney fees and other expenses when it prevails over the Department in an adversary adjudication under 5 U.S.C. 554 before the Department, unless the Department's position as a party to the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. The purpose of these rules is to establish procedures for the submission and consideration of applications for awards against the Department.
As used in this part:
(a) The Act means section 504 of title 5, U.S. Code, as amended by section 203(a)(1) of the Equal Access to Justice Act, Public Law No. 96-481.
(b) Adversary adjudication means an adjudication under 5 U.S.C. 554 in which the position of the United States is represented by counsel or otherwise, but excludes an adjudication for the purpose of establishing or fixing a rate or for the purpose of granting or reviewing a license.
(c) Adjudicative officer means the official, without regard to whether the official is designated as an administrative law judge, a hearing officer or examiner, or otherwise, who presided at the adversary adjudication.
(d) Department refers to the relevant departmental component which is conducting the adversary adjudication (e.g., Drug Enforcement Administration or Office of Justice Assistance, Research, and Statistics).
(e) Proceeding means an adversary adjudication as defined in § 24.102(b) above.
(a) These rules apply to adversary adjudications required by statute to be conducted by the Department under 5 U.S.C. 554. Specifically, the proceedings conducted by the Department to which these rules apply are:
(1) Hearings conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in connection with suspension or revocation of registration of manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers of controlled substances under 21 U.S.C. 824(c) and 21 CFR 1301.51; suspension or revocation of import and export registrations pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 958 and 21 CFR 1311.51;
(5) Grant denial and grant termination hearings conducted by the Office of Justice Assistance, Research, and Statistics (OJARS), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), or the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) under 42 U.S.C. 3783 and 28 CFR part 18; and
(b) If a proceeding includes both matters covered by the Act and matters specifically excluded from coverage, any award made will include only fees and expenses related to covered issues.
The Act applies to an adversary adjudication pending before the Department at any time between October 1, 1981 and September 30, 1984. This includes proceedings begun before October 1, 1981 if final Department action has not been taken before that date, and proceedings pending on September 30, 1984.
(a) To be eligible for an award of attorney fees and other expenses under the Act, the applicant must be a prevailing party in the adversary adjudication for which it seeks an award. The term “party” is defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3). The applicant must show that it meets all conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart and in subpart B.
(b) The types of eligible applicants are as follows:
(1) An individual with a net worth of not more than $1 million;
(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business who has a net worth of not more than $5 million and not more than 500 employees;
(3) A charitable or other tax-exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with not more than 500 employees;
(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with not more than 500 employees; and
(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization with a net worth of not more than $5 million and not more than 500 employees.
(c) For the purpose of eligibility, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the adversary adjudication was initiated.
(a) A prevailing applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred in connection with a proceeding unless
(1) the position of the Department as a party to the proceeding was substantially justified or
(2) special circumstances make the award sought unjust. No presumption arises that the agency's position was not substantially justified simply because the agency did not prevail.
(b) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the proceedings.
(a) The following fees and other expenses are allowable under the Act:
(1) Reasonable expenses of expert witnesses;
(2) Reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, or project which the Department finds necessary for the preparation of the party's case;
(3) Reasonable attorney or agent fees;
(b) The amount of fees awarded will be based upon the prevailing market rates for the kind and quality of services furnished, except that
(1) Compensation for an expert witness will not exceed the highest rate paid by the Department for expert witnesses; and
(2) Attorney or agent fees will not be in excess of $75 per hour.
(a) An application for an award of fees and expenses under the Act shall identify the applicant and the proceeding for which an award is sought. The application shall show that the applicant has prevailed and identify the position of the Department in the proceeding that the applicant alleges was not substantially justified.
(b) The application shall include a statement that the applicant's net worth as of the time the proceeding was initiated did not exceed $1 million if the applicant is an individual (other than a sole owner of an unincorporated business seeking an award in that capacity) or $5 million in the case of all other applicants. An applicant may omit this statement if:
(1) It attaches a copy of a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) and is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Code or, in the case of such an organization not required to obtain a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on its exempt status, a statement that describes the basis for the applicant's belief that it qualifies under section 501(c)(3) of the Code; or
(2) It states that it is a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)).
(c) If the applicant is a partnership, corporation, association, or organization, or a sole owner of an unincorporated business, the application shall state that it did not have more than 500 employees at the time the proceeding was initiated, giving the number of its employees and describing briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business.
(d) The application shall itemize the amount of fees and expenses for which an award is sought.
(e) The application may include any other matters that the applicant believes should be considered in determining whether and in what amount an award should be made.
(f) The application shall be signed by the applicant with respect to the eligibility of the applicant and by the attorney of the applicant with respect to fees and expenses sought. The application shall contain or be accompanied by a written verification under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury that the information provided in the application and all accompanying material is true and complete to the best of the signer's information and belief.
(a) Each applicant except a qualified tax exempt organization or a qualified cooperative must submit with its application a detailed exhibit showing its net worth at the time the proceeding was initiated. If any individual, corporation, or other entity directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares or other interest of the applicant, or if the applicant directly or indirectly owns or controls a majority of the voting shares of other interest of any corporation or other entity, the exhibit must include a showing of the net worth of all such affiliates or of the applicant including the affiliates. The exhibit may be in any form convenient to the applicant, provided that it makes full disclosure of the applicant's and any affiliates' assets and liabilities and is sufficient to determine whether the applicant qualifies under the standards of 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(B)(i). The adjudicative officer may require an applicant to file additional information to determine the applicant's eligibility for an award.
(b) The net worth exhibit shall describe any transfers of assets from, or obligations incurred by, the applicant or any affiliate, occurring in the one-year period prior to the date on which the proceeding was initiated, that reduced the net worth of the applicant and its affiliates below the applicable net worth ceiling. If there were no such transactions, the applicant shall so state.
(c) The net worth exhibit shall be included in the public record of the proceeding.
(a) The application shall be accompanied by full documentation of the fees and expenses, including the cost of any study, engineering report, test, or project, for which an award is sought.
(b) The documentation shall include an affidavit from any attorney, agent, or expert witness representing or appearing in behalf of the party, stating the actual time expended and the rate at which fees and other expenses were computed and describing the specific services performed.
(1) The affidavit shall state the services performed. In order to establish the hourly rate, the affidavit shall state the hourly rate which is billed and paid by the majority of clients during the relevant time periods.
(2) If no hourly rate is paid by the majority of clients because, for instance, the attorney or agent represents most clients on a contingency basis, the attorney or agent shall provide information about two attorneys or agents with similar experience, who perform similar work, stating their hourly rate.
(c) The documentation shall also include a description of any expenses for which reimbursement is sought and a statement of the amounts paid and payable by the applicant or by any other person or entity for the services provided.
(d) The adjudicative officer may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts, or other substantiation for any expenses claimed.
(a) An application must be filed no later than 30 days after final disposition of the proceeding. If review or reconsideration is sought or taken of a decision as to which an applicant believes it has prevailed, action on the award of fees shall be stayed pending final disposition of the underlying controversy.
(b) Final disposition means the later of:
(1) The date on which the final agency decision is issued,
(2) The date on which a petition for rehearing or reconsideration is disposed of, or
(3) The date of final resolution of the proceeding, such as settlement or voluntary dismissal, which is not subject to a petition for rehearing or reconsideration.
An application for an award and any other pleading or document related to the application shall be filed and served on all parties to the proceeding in the same manner as other pleadings in the proceeding.
(a) Within 30 calendar days after service of the application, Department counsel may file an answer. If Department counsel fails to answer or otherwise fails to contest or settle the application, the adjudicative officer may upon a satisfactory showing of entitlement by the applicant make an award for the applicant's fees and other expenses under 5 U.S.C. 504.
(b) If Department counsel and applicant believe that they can reach a settlement concerning the award, Department counsel may file a statement of intent to negotiate. The filing of such a statement shall extend the time for filing an answer an additional 30 days.
(c) The answer shall explain in detail any objections to the award requested and identify the facts relied on to support the objection. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not already reflected in the record of the proceeding, Department counsel shall include with the answer either a supporting affidavit or a request for further filings or other action.
Any party to a proceeding other than the applicant and Department counsel may file comments on an application within 30 calendar days after it is served or on an answer within 15 calendar days after it is served.
A prevailing party and Department counsel may agree on a proposed settlement of an award before final action on the application, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying proceeding or after the underlying proceeding has been concluded. If the party and Department counsel agree on a proposed settlement of an award before an application has been filed, the application shall be filed with the proposed settlement.
(a) The adjudicative officer may on motion and for good cause shown grant extensions of time other than for filing an application for fees and expenses after final disposition in the adversary adjudication.
(b) Ordinarily, the determination of an award will be made on the basis of the written record of the underlying proceeding and the filings required or permitted by the foregoing sections of these rules. However, the adjudicative officer may sua sponte or on motion of any party to the proceedings require or permit further filings or other action, such as an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions, or an evidentiary hearing. Such further action shall occur only when necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application and shall take place as promptly as possible. A motion for further filings or other action shall specifically identify the information sought on the disputed issues and shall explain why the further filings or other action is necessary to resolve the issues.
(c) In the event that an evidentiary hearing is required or permitted by the adjudicative officer, such hearing and any related filings or other action required or permitted shall be conducted pursuant to the procedural rules governing adversary adjudications conducted by the Department component in which the underlying adversary adjudication was conducted.
The adjudicative officer shall promptly issue a decision on the application which shall include proposed written findings and conclusions on such of the following as are relevant to the decision:
(a) The applicant's status as a prevailing party;
(b) The applicant's qualification as a “party” under 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(B);
(c) Whether the Department's position as a party to the proceeding was substantially justified;
(d) Whether special circumstances make an award unjust;
(e) Whether the applicant during the course of the proceedings engaged in conduct that unduly and unreasonably protracted the final resolution of the matter in controversy; and
(f) The amounts, if any, awarded for fees and other expenses, with reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount awarded.
The decision of the adjudicative officer will be reviewed to the extent permitted by law by the Department in accordance with the Department's procedures for the type of proceeding involved. The Department will issue the final decision on the application.
Judicial review of final Department decisions on awards may be sought as provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).
An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit a copy of the final decision granting the award to the Department's Accounting Office for processing. A statement that review of the underlying decision is not being sought in the United States courts, or that the process for seeking review of the award has been completed, must also be included.