John Lynch of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning
that Circuit Judge Tim Fox
had awarded $71,214 in legal fees to Cheryl Maples,
the lawyer for plaintiffs who successfully challenged the state's unconstitutional treatment of same-sex parents in issuing birth certificates.
Based on discrimination and not biology, the state gave presumptive parenthood in issuance
of birth certificates to fathers in opposite-sex marriages, but not to married women with a newborn. The U.S. Supreme Court thought so little of the state's defense of the practice that it summarily reversed
the state Supreme Court's split decision in favor of this discrimination.
The legal bill could have been even higher for taxpayers (and remember this doesn't include the embedded cost of the staff lawyers, PR flacks, private cops and other factotums
that run up the budget of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's
office in regularly defending the indefensible). Fox said that if Maples had followed the rules of court procedure, she could have qualified for as much as $220,000 in fees.
I'd like to post Fox's full opinion here, but the court's on-line
records system is not functioning properly this morning. I'd like to see it readily accessible and memorialized on-line for Fox's criticsm
of the state's obtuseness (the kindest word I can think of for Rutledge's devotion to perpetuating discrimination against LGBT people.)
"Truly ridiculous" is how Fox described Senior Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt's assertion that Maples did not prevail in the litigation because it completely contradicts the attorney general's own position on the case from two years ago, Fox wrote.
"Such statement is not only incorrect, both factually and legally, it is contrary to the first sentence of defendant's initial responsive pleading," his findings state.
The judge further ridiculed Merritt's arguments about how much work Maples has performed since the litigation returned to his court last October, writing that her position "evidences a complete lack of professionalism, as well as common sense."
This assessment of the state's work is in opposition to a lawyer, Maples, who Fox said was "totally unfamiliar" with the rules of civil and appellate procedure. The state, with all its resources, lost a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. The U.S. Constitution prevailed, something it might be risky to count on as Trump judicial appointees pack the federal bench.