Texas Same-Sex Marriage Lawyers Seek $740,000 in Fees, Costs from State

From left, same-sex marriage plaintiffs Cleopatra DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss outside San Antonio's federal courthouse in February.
Patrick Michels
From left, same-sex marriage plaintiffs Cleopatra DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss outside San Antonio's federal courthouse in February.

The attorneys for same-sex couples who successfully challenged Texas’ gay marriage ban in federal court are seeking nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in fees and costs from the state.

In a 27-page motion filed Friday, attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in San Antonio asked U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia to award them $720,794 in fees and $20,203 in costs.

Akin Gump represented two same-sex couples in De Leon v. Perry, which was filed in October 2013 and resolved pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Under federal law, prevailing parties in civil rights cases are typically eligible for fees and costs.

“Our task on behalf of our clients was to attack and uproot unjust laws that were tightly embraced by the entire elected statewide leadership of Texas, a state with virtually unlimited resources to defend those unjust laws,” Akin Gump’s Neel Lane, the lead attorney in the case, wrote in a declaration supporting the motion. “Had the State of Texas not deprived our clients of their constitutional rights, they in turn would not have had to engage attorneys, and this motion for attorneys’ fees and costs would have been unnecessary. If the State is not held accountable for the legal costs it caused to be incurred, then it will be more likely to engage in similar objectionable conduct in the future.”

After Akin Gump brought the lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman and Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, Garcia struck down the marriage ban as unconstitutional in February 2014. The state appealed Garcia’s decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in January.

Following the high court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 5th Circuit affirmed Garcia, who then entered a final judgment in DeLeon v. Perry on July 7.

Lane said although he expects the state to oppose the motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, Garcia is likely to grant it but could raise or lower the amount.

Representatives from the attorney general’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

John Wright is a freelance journalist based in Austin. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Published at 4:55 pm CST
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