Abortion case appeal costs state $25,528 more | Arkansas Blog

Abortion case appeal costs state $25,528 more


Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's fruitless attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the unconstitutional Arkansas 12-week abortion ban law has cost the state another $25,000.

Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright awarded another $25,000 in fees today to the lawyers who challenged the law for Little Rock abortion providers. Wright struck the law down and fees have mounted as Rutledge appealed to the 8th Circuit, the full 8th Circuit and then the U.S. Supreme Court. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has not wavered from the Roe v. Wade decision that prevents state from banning abortion before viability of the fetus around 24 weeks or so, legal experts expected the state to lose. But Rutledge has said she was bound to defend the law to the end.

The ACLU, which led the challenge of the law, said the judge awarded $24,780 in fees and $748 in costs.  This on top of $97,567 awarded earlier.

The state had argued no fees should have been awarded because of a late filing and further said that hours for five lawyers were excessive. The successful lawyers had asked for $29,370 in fees. The judge rejected the state's argument on timeliness. But she reduced the fee request, finding more hours were billed than necessary.

Although it is not proper to reduce fees solely because multiple attorneys represented the prevailing party, the Court may reduce attorney hours based an unreasonable or inefficient
duplication of services. .... 

While the coordination of effort by multiple attorneys is necessary in difficult cases, the combined effort of five attorneys simply was not necessary here. In granting attorney’s fees for work at the trial level, the Court noted that the issues presented in this case were not complicated and concerned well-settled law. The questions presented with the State’s petition for certiorari involved the same straight-forward issues that had been thoroughly briefed and argued in this Court and the Court of Appeals. After careful review of the record, the Court finds that successful resistance to the petition did not require the work of five attorneys and that the hours claimed are in excess of what is reasonable under the circumstances. 

She awarded fees for 98.7 hours of work, where 114 hours had been claimed.

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