A Good Start To The Month

Coming off the month of March in which he had wins at the District Court level in both the Woollard and Bateman cases, Alan Gura starts the month of April with news of a fee settlement with the District of Columbia for more than US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had awarded.

From BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times:

The attorneys who won the landmark D.C. gun case in the Supreme Court in 2008 have agreed to settle a legal fee dispute with the city for $1.5 million, terminating a dispute in a Washington federal appeals court.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, including Alan Gura of Alexandria’s Gura & Possessky, who argued the high profile gun rights case in the Supreme Court, had sought more than the $1.17 million a trial judge awarded in December.

While I still think the District of Columbia is getting off cheap, I’m glad to see Alan Gura and Clark Neily finally getting paid for their years of work on the Heller case.

A spokesman for the city said they decided to settle to avoid the “uncertainties” of the appeals process. Given that first and foremost Alan is an appellate attorney, I think this probably was wise on the part of the city.

Gura Appeals The Fee Award In The Heller Case

The Legal Times is reporting that Alan Gura and Clark Neily have filed notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. They are appealing Judge Emmet Sullivan’s award of only $1.17 million in fees for the Heller case.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said Gura is entitled to $1.17 million in fees and nearly $4,900 in expenses. Sullivan rejected Gura’s request for more than $3.12 million in fees and expenses.

“Sensitive to the fact that the fees in this case will be paid by the taxpayers, this Court is left with the difficult task of closely scrutinizing plaintiff’s fee petition to determine what is fair, reasonable, and just compensation for the legal services of plaintiff’s attorneys,” Sullivan said in his decision.

Judge Sullivan in setting the lower hourly fee for the attorneys who represented Dick Heller and the rest of the original plaintiffs agreed with DC’s contention that small firms should command lower fees than the mega-firms. He also rejected the contention of Alan Gura that a fee enhancement was due to the plaintiffs’ attorney for “superior lawyering” saying, in part,

Finally, the Court is not persuaded that plaintiff’s success in this action was attributable to the superior lawyering of his counsel. As plaintiff is well aware, “superior results are relevant [to a request for a fee enhancement] only to the extent it can be shown that they are the result of superior attorney performance.” See Perdue, 130 S. Ct. at 1674. In this case, the Court finds that the lawyering on both sides was excellent. The Court therefore concludes that plaintiff has failed to present this Court with the specific evidence necessary to overcome the “strong presumption” that the lodestar figure is reasonable.

I guess winning only the second case that dealt directly with the Second Amendment and changing the course of Second Amendment jurisprudence in the process doesn’t count.

By filing the appeal, Gura and Neily are seeking a second opinion as to the reasonableness of their request. While Gura was not available for comment, Clark Neily had this to say:

Neily said in an e-mail that “settlement discussions between the Heller’s legal team and the District of Columbia are ongoing, and we have filed our notice of appeal in order to preserve all available options.”

I’ve always held the District of Columbia City Council were a bunch of cheap bastards in dragging out their payment to Alan Gura and the rest. And I think Judge Sullivan is dead wrong in his assessment that superior lawyering didn’t win the case for Dick Heller.