Jerolmon v. Astrue
A District Court may deny a request for attorneys' fees pursuant to the Equal Access To Justice Act, if the plaintiff's attorneys failed to submit detailed, contemporaneous time records. The plaintiff, Dwight Jerolmon, applied for Social Security disability benefits. An administrative law judge denied the plaintiff's request for benefits. The District Court remanded to the commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, the plaintiff requested attorneys' fees in the amount of $8,853. The statute provides that "a court shall award to a prevailing party . . . fees and other expenses . . . in any civil action . . . brought by or against the United States . . . unless the court finds that the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust." The commissioner of Social Security objected to the amount of the plaintiff's attorneys' fees. The District Court observed that the 2nd Circuit generally requires contemporaneous time records and that the plaintiff's law firm failed to submit detailed, contemporaneous time records in support of the attorneys' fees application. In a 1983 decision, New York State Association for Retarded Children Inc. v. Carey, the 2nd Circuit wrote, "[A]ny attorney . . . who applies for court-ordered compensation in this Circuit for work done after the date of this opinion must document the application with contemporaneous time records." The District Court was not persuaded that the law firm's terse descriptions of legal services that allegedly were provided on particular dates between February 2010 and August 2012 met the requirements for detailed, "contemporaneous time records." The District Court invited the plaintiff's law firm to submit additional records, on or before Jan. 31, 2013.