Lambda Legal and the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, which filed lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage in several states including North Dakota, demanded that their legal fees be paid by those states after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage earlier this year.
Today a federal judge agreed to award some legal fees, but reduced the amount to be awarded dramatically.
The reason? Turns out the activist foundation and their lawyers were padding their billing.
“Simply put, this case was not a trailblazing case on the issues presented,” U.S. Chief District Judge Ralph Erickson wrote in his order. “Moreover, the hours billed by the attorneys reflect an excessive amount of time spent on simple issues such as an extension of a deadline or to request a stay be lifted. The billing also reflects an excessive amount of duplicative efforts on issues that had been raised an inordinate amount of times in other cases.”
More from Mike Nowatzki at the Forum:
The attorneys sought reimbursement for hourly rates of $265 to $395 per hour, but Erickson wrote that “based on the recycled and straightforward nature of the legal issues in this case,” an hourly rate in excess of $250 per hour “is simply unreasonable and not justified.”
Erickson noted that some of the hours billed on the case were unnecessary or duplicative, and that North Dakota was the last state in the country to face a challenge to its same-sex marriage ban.
I’m glad gay marriage is legal now (though I wish it had been the result of the democratic process and not a court ruling), but that’s a separate issue from this blatant attempt to gouge taxpayers.