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Judge Blasts State, Awards Attorney Fees in Redistricting Case

A federal judge, clearly miffed at a State of Texas filing on attorney's fees in a redistricting case, awarded the full amount to lawyers who sued the state and credited the state's response for the decision.

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A federal judge, clearly miffed at a State of Texas filing on attorney's fees in a redistricting case, awarded the full amount requested to the lawyers who sued the state over its political maps and credited the state's response for her decision. 

The state plans to ask a higher court to overturn the order.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer awarded a total of $1,096,770.01 to the three intervenors in the redistricting case against the state. Here's the top of her 24-page order (a full copy of the order is attached):

This matter presents a case study in how not to respond to a motion for attorney fees and costs. At issue is whether defendant-intervenors, who prevailed in Voting Rights Act litigation before a three-judge panel, may recoup attorney fees and costs even though the Supreme Court vacated that opinion in light of the Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in a different lawsuit that declared a section of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. A quick search of the Federal Reporter reveals the complexity of this narrow question. Yet, rather than engage the fee applicants, Plaintiff Texas basically ignores the arguments supporting an award of fees and costs. In a three-page filing entitled “Advisory,” Texas trumpets the Supreme Court’s decision, expresses indignation at having to respond at all, and presumes that the motion for attorney fees is so frivolous that Texas need not provide further briefing in opposition unless requested. Such an opposition is insufficient in this jurisdiction. Circuit precedent and the Local Rules of this Court provide that the failure to respond to an opposing party’s arguments results in waiver as to the unaddressed contentions, and the Court finds that Texas’s “Advisory” presents no opposition on the applicable law. Accordingly, the Court will award the requested fees and costs.

"The U.S. Supreme Court declared the preclearance requirement unconstitutional and ruled in the State's favor in this case--something the court never really addresses," said Lauren Bean, a spokeswomen for Attorney General Greg Abbott. "Texas won this case, and the party who wins a lawsuit cannot be made to pay the other party's attorneys fees.  The award of attorneys fees is completely baseless, and we will seek to overturn it."

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