The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today trimmed the request for attorney fees to be paid by Arkansas in the appellate portion of the successful challenge of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The court gave appellants $7,463.75 against the state of Arkansas for their work on the state’s appeal of Judge Kristine Baker’s ruling that invalidated the ban. A separate, larger request for attorney fees is pending at the lower court (some $66,000 by Jack Wagoner’s law firm and Cheryl Maples). A fee request is also pending before Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza for work by prevailing plaintiffs’ attorneys in the separate state case that invalidated the ban. Maples is seeking $256,000 and Wagoner $95,000.
The 8th Circuit affirmed the federal district court ruling after the U.S. Supreme Court said same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional. Arguments weren’t held in the case pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of a case from another circuit.
Attorneys Jack Wagoner and Angela Mann of the Wagoner Law Firm had asked the appeals court for $12,897.50. The 8th Circuit didn’t explain its reasoning, but its lower award appears to have granted fees they claimed in excess of that already paid in $5,110 contributed to Wagoner’s work by the Arkansas Public Law Center, a nonprofit public interest group on whose board I sit. The Center paid a reduced rate, $100 an hour, to assist the Wagoner firm’s work. Wagoner’s fee request said he’d reimburse that amount to the center.
Wagoner argued that Supreme Court precedent allows payment of fees to a winning lawyer even when they’ve received support from outside organizations. The state disputed that and argued Wagoner wasn’t entitled to anything, having already been paid $5,1110.