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Civil Pro Bono Panel FAQs

  • The Panel is being formed to further the just and efficient administration of the Court's docket by assisting inmates who cannot afford private counsel in prosecuting their cases, and to provide pro bono attorneys with an opportunity to gain experience in federal court, particularly during jury trials.

  • Licensed attorneys admitted to practice in the Western District of Louisiana may complete the Panel application. The Program Coordinator will review applications and determine eligibility to participate on the Panel. No federal litigation experience is necessary to participate on the Panel, although any relevant experience will be considered an asset.

  • Applicants to the Panel are agreeing to join the Panel only. Panel members will be notified of any potential appointment, may volunteer to accept an appointment, and may decline to accept an appointment for a variety of reasons, including a conflict of interest, another recent appointment, or a busy work schedule.

  • Panel members will be contacted by the Program Coordinator for potential appointments, but selected for final appointment by the Magistrate Judge assigned to the case. By the time a panel appointment is made, an initial determination has been made that the inmate's claim is not frivolous. The case will have also survived dispositive motions or passed through the period for filing dispositive motions.

  • During the Pilot Program, only cases filed by pro se inmates will be eligible for appointments. These cases usually involve civil rights claims challenging the inmate's conditions of confinement or the use of force.

  • The Court does not anticipate a large number of overall appointments during the Pilot Program. Accordingly, a Panel member can safely plan to take no more than one or two appointments per year.

  • The time commitment involved will be determined, in large part, by the nature of the case. However, by the time an appointment is made, discovery will generally by complete, and a relatively significant record will have been compiled. Additionally, defendants in prose inmate cases will almost always be represented by counsel. As such, Panel members will likely be responsible for reviewing a detailed record and preparing a case for trial or settlement.

  • Yes, although Panel members should accept cases without an expectation of any compensation at the outset. The Court's Resolution allows for the reimbursement of certain costs and expenses, up to an amount of $2,500. The Court's Resolution also allows for the recovery of attorney's fees of $2,500. And any reimbursement will be made only upon motion and order by the Court.