House Bill 1024 asks for $800,000 to be plunked into the state’s extraordinary litigation fund. HB 1024 includes an emergency clause to appropriate that money right now.
The state might have fewer legal funding emergencies if the Legislature passed fewer bad laws. In an embarrassing one-two punch yesterday, hot on the heels of his ruling against the state and 2019 HB 1094 in SD Voice v. Noem II, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kornmann yesterday ordered the state to pay plaintiffs’ legal fees in SD Voice V. Noem I, in which plaintiffs defeated the unconstitutional ban on out-of-state contributions to ballot question campaigns that voters tried to enact last year.
In SD Voice v. Noem I, Judge Kornmann orders the state to pay my attorney Jim Leach $33,689.30 in legal fees, expenses, and costs. In the companion lawsuit against IM 24 from the newspapers, broadcasters, retailers, Chamber, and other rich people, Judge Kornmann ordered the state to pay Marty Jackley and his legal team $80,420.80.
Leach originally asked for $31,279.30; Team Jackley asked for $86,905.
In his order on fees, Judge Kornmann cites multiple instances in which the cases the state cited in its arguments against compensation didn’t really say what the state claimed:
Defendants have failed in their ethical obligation to advise the Court that the Ninth Circuit in Thorsted v. Gregoire held that “several of the circumstances identified by the district court would be insufficient, standing alone, to warrant a denial of fees.”…Further, the Ninth Circuit has since rejected Thorsted, noting that many of the factors cited therein “are largely unique to that case… as well as being, in part, in adequate grounds for denial of fees.”
…Defendants argue that U.S. District Judge Schreier held that “a reasonable rate within the District of South Dakota is $175-$210 depending on the experience of the attorney,” citing Argus Leader Media v. United States Dep’t of Agric… (D.S.D.Aug.3,2017). Defendants have attempted to mislead the Court in that regard. What Judge Schrier held is that “[t]his court has previously held that a reasonable rate within the District of South Dakota is $175-$210 depending on the experience of the attorney.”… The fees in Argus Leader were generated beginning in 2011. Judge Schreier in no way implied that the market rate in South Dakota in 2017 was no more that $210. In fact, in the Argus Leader case, counsel for the defendant was only seeking $200 per hour and Judge Schreier awarded fees at the requested rate.
Defendants cited only old case law in support of their objection to Mr. Leach’s requested rate and have attempted to mislead the Court about that law.
…Defendants object that such expenses are part of overhead and not properly included in a fee award. Defendants cite a 1993 case for the proposition that, in the Eighth Circuit, computer-based legal research may not be separately added to the fee award. Once again, defendants have attempted to mislead this Court as to the law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has held that “CLR is now a common litigation expense, and it may be reimbursable.”… (2016)… [Judge Charles Kornmann, Opinion and Order, SD Voice v. Noem I and SD Newspaper Association et al. v Noem, U.S. District Court of South Dakota, 2020.01.09].
Failing in one’s ethical obligation and misleading the Court—hmm… when an Attorney General does that, does he commit an impeachable offense?