UPDATE, May 18: Court denies abortion attorney fees.
Abortion supporters, including the Wichita Eagle editorial staff (here, here, here, here, and here and now here) take every opportunity to complain that Kansas tax money is being spent on litigation to uphold pro-life laws enacted in 2011. However, evidence now shows that it is actually abortion clinic attorneys who are trying to cheat taxpayers.
The most recent defense filing from the state of Kansas– in the lawsuit attacking a licensure law upheld in other states– is asking the court to deny any fee award to national and local attorneys for two abortion businesses: the Center for Women’s Health and Aid for Women.
At issue is a “windfall” for clinic attorneys– according to the State– including over $78,000 for ineligible legal work as well as using indefensible attorney rates of $400 per hour. All but one of the clinics’ attorneys lack ANY experience in this type of litigation, yet they charged nearly double what attorneys experienced in this specialty would charge- $225 per hour.
State attorneys (including the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt) demonstrated how the court is being wrongly asked to pay for over-billing at over-inflated rates, including 53.6 billable hours in one day and 22 hours to write a basic motion.
Clinic attorneys missed no opportunity to pad their expense tab, large and small, even to including charges for:
- a private car to transport Overland Park abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser to a hearing in Kansas City, and
- the taxi cab fare from home to work for Bonnie Scott Jones (attorney from the east coast Center for Reproductive Rights)!
This abortion lawsuit was filed against Kansas’ long-sought clinic licensure law under the claim that it negatively impacted clinics and thus harmed women’s “civil right” to abortion. Abortion attorneys have petitioned the federal district court to award them fees as the “prevailing party”.
Problems abound with that request, according to state attorneys. First, clinic attorneys do not deserve fees because they have NOT yet “prevailed” [won]. Clinics were issued a favorable preliminary injunction, but not the permanent one they had sought. The injunction was issued in the interest of keeping ‘the status quo,’ following a rushed hearing in which Judge Carlos Murguia issued no written ruling.
Second, civil rights litigation rules permit reimbursement of “reasonable attorney’s fees”. The state’s attorneys emphasize
such reimbursement was not “designed or intended to reward … inaccurate, duplicative,and unreasonable billing practices…[which the clinics’ attorneys] are seeking here.”
Third, the two clinics sought relief from temporary regulations issued by the state health department from going into effect July 1, 2011. Both businesses dropped their federal lawsuit in mid-November 2011 (after revised, permanent state regulations were enacted) and both refiled their grievances in the state court of Judge Franklin Theis in Topeka.
So there it is, the abortion advocates cry foul when money has to be paid for defending Constitutionally-permissible laws that they dislike, while their own attorneys try to claim an undeserved “windfall” from Kansas taxpayers!