Kim Davis could be landed with $233,058 legal bill over marriage fight
Kentucky clerk Kim Davis could land up having to pay more than $200,000 in legal costs, after her lengthy battle over same-sex marriage.
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis famously refused to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples last year, after the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.
Four couples (two same-sex ones and two straight ones) sued Davis over her actions.
The case gained national attention when Davis was jailed for several days for contempt of court, after refusing to comply with repeated court orders.
The lawsuit was resolved earlier this year, after the Republican Governor of Kentucky changed state law to eliminate the need for clerks like Davis to authorise licenses.
Davis has received pro bono legal support from the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel throughout all her legal issues – however, she could still land up with a huge bill for her opponents’ costs.
Attorneys for the four couples who sued Davis have appealed to US District Judge David Bunning, seeking an order that will let them recoup $233,058 in legal fees and costs – accounting for more than 600 hours of work, billed at $250 to $700 an hour.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Rowan County is refusing to pay costs as Davis was acting on her own behalf – which means the clerk may end up footing the bill herself.
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The newspaper reports that Jeffrey C Mando, an attorney for Rowan County, insisted: “County clerks are not employees of the county, but instead are the holders of elective office pursuant to the Kentucky Constitution.”
ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director William Sharp said:”Courts recognise that when successful civil rights plaintiffs obtain a direct benefit from a court-ordered victory, such as in this case, they can be entitled to their legal expenses to deter future civil rights violations by government officials,” he said.
“By filing today’s motion, we hope to achieve that very objective — to send a message to government officials that wilful violations of individuals’ rights will be costly.”
The Liberty Counsel is fighting the order on the grounds that Davis didn’t technically lose the case, as the issue was resolved due to a change in state law.
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, insisted: “The ACLU is not entitled to attorney’s fees. Kim Davis won the case and the case is closed.
“County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis.”