Joe Arpaio Costs Us Another $7.3 Million and Counting in Melendres (Update: Losing Lawyer Tim Casey Responds)
Please see update below with Tim Casey's whiny objection to the legal fees caused by the bad behavior of his client.
Who better to help me inaugurate a new category in this blog, entitled "Bigotry Is Expensive," than the man known for sucking all of the air out of the room and mammoth amounts of cash out of taxpayers' wallets, Sheriff Joe Arpaio?
In case you missed it, Arpaio just cost us another $7.3 million-plus in lawyer fees and legal expenses in the ACLU's big civil rights lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio.
See, according to federal law, the prevailing party in a federal civil rights lawsuit can ask for reasonable reimbursements for the necessary lawyers, experts and so on. And the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Melendres recently did just that.
In an October 16 court filing, the plaintiffs' lead attorney Stanley Young of the firm Covington & Burling writes that:
Plaintiffs' initial fair estimate of the amount of attorneys' fees and related nontaxable expenses is $7,324,424.20. These fees and non-taxable expenses reflect nearly six years of litigation, which included two years of discovery, motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings, class certification, cross-motions for summary judgment, an interlocutory appeal, a seven-day trial with numerous witnesses (lay, party and expert), post-trial briefing, and, after a favorable result for Plaintiffs on liability, the development of proposed remedies. In arriving at this estimate, Plaintiffs have deducted fees and nontaxable costs previously awarded.
Of course, if the MCSO had prevailed, the ACLU and the other attorneys involved would have had to eat the costs of six years of litigation, including the cost of their time, the experts involved, court fees, and other expenses.
This notice to the court is only an estimate and had to be filed within 14 days of federal Judge G. Murray Snow's final order. A more detailed itemization of costs will come later. The MCSO can challenge the fees or agree to pay and enter into negotiations on the final sum.
This is hardly the only legal bill associated with Melendres. Nor will it be the last.
For instance, the above figure does not include fees and expenses already awarded by the court.
In 2009 it was revealed that the MCSO had shredded mounds of documents repeatedly sought by the plaintiffs, had failed to retain certain records, and had not revealed the existence of others.
As a result, the plaintiffs were forced to redo many of the depositions of key players.
So Snow awarded the plaintiffs the cost of the do-overs, which totaled $94,707.
The plaintiffs can, and likely will, submit future compensation requests during the life of Snow's order, which will last at least three years, but in reality, probably closer to five.
Moreover, if Maricopa County decides to back an appeal of Snow's ruling, despite long ago being severed from the case, the county will be on the hook for its own attorney's fees. Should the plaintiffs win, the county will pick up that tab as well.
Back in June when I checked on billings by the MCSO's lawyer Tim Casey, they were close to $1 million. Added to the previous billings in the case by the firm Ogletree Deakins, the total billings by defense lawyers was well over one million.