Two months after the State Bar withdrew from a
decade-long legal battle over how to spend its members' mandatory
dues, attorneys who filed the original challenge submitted a $2.35
Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed
the fee request in Sacramento County Superior Court for hours spent on
Brosterhous, et al. v. State Bar of California, in which Judge Morris
England found some bar activities should not be funded with lawyers'
dues. The bar dropped its appeal in January, saying it no longer funds
the programs in question, which now are supported by voluntary
PLF is seeking $1.081 million for about 5,000
hours of work and more than $97,000 for 358 hours of work by attorneys
at Nageley, Meredith & Miller. It asked that the award be doubled
to $2,358,892.40 based on the complexity of the case, its degree of
difficulty, the results, public interest value and what it charged
were the bar's bad faith and delay.
Deborah J. La Fetra, PLF's lead attorney on the
case, says in her motion that the bar "had every opportunity to
limit its fee liability but chose not to do so."
She argues that changes in bar budgeting -
particularly not using member fees to pay for the Conference of
Delegates, lobbying and bar committees devoted to such issues as
ethnic minority relations and sexual orientation - are largely the
result of the Brosterhous case.
State Bar general counsel Marie Moffat said the
bar is willing to negotiate fees, but called PLF's demand
unreasonable. She pointed out that if the court awards the fees
requested, it will cost each dues-paying bar member $13.50, compared
to the $10 award granted to the 41 plaintiffs in the case.
The case did not have the "constitutional
dimensions" to warrant high fees or a mulitiplier, she said.
"The governor's veto and subsequent
legislative changes were all things that occurred before Judge
England's decision," Moffat added.
The court is expected to decide the fee issue
this month or in May.