In re Attorney's Fees of BettencourtAnnotate this Case
In the case underlying this appeal, the circuit court appointed Appellant David Bettencourt to represent a client in a criminal case. After the client was acquitted on all counts, Appellant filed two requests for his own fees as appointed counsel, the second if which was the subject of this appeal. The trial judge certified the total amount of fees requested in the second request, but an administrative judge reduced the amount of fees requested as necessary to provide fair compensation. At issue on appeal was the scope of the administrative judge's authority under Haw. Rev. Stat. 802-5(b). The Supreme Court vacated the administrative judge's order, holding (1) under section 802-5(b), both the trial judge and the administrative judge independently review excess fee requests to determine whether a fee award is fair compensation, and both the trial judge's and administrative judge's orders awarding fees are judicial acts subject to appellate review under the abuse of discretion standard; and (2) because the administrative judge in this case summarily reduced Appellant's fees with no reasons given, the Court could not determine whether the administrative judge abused his discretion in ordering reduced fees. Remanded.