TOPEKA — State attorneys argue that a three-judge federal panel should award little, if any, legal fees to lawyers who have filed more than $669,000 in bills in the Kansas redistricting case.
Filed late Wednesday on behalf of Secretary of State Kris Kobach — who has described the lawyers seeking the fees as “shameless” — and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the state’s lawyers contend that the attorneys representing numerous legislators, communities and individuals are not entitled to the fees they are seeking.
One argument is that none of the maps drawn by the judges were sought by the plaintiffs or parties who intervened in the case.
The judges drew the district maps in June after legislators failed to produce new boundary lines for the Kansas House, Senate, four U.S. House districts and 10 State Board of Education districts.
With the legal bills submitted, the judges now will decide how much of the suing parties’ costs must be borne by the state.
The lawsuit originally was filed in early May by Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe. But the judges allowed 26 other people — voters, business leaders and key figures in the Legislature’s stalemate — to join Essex.
Nineteen of the 27 plaintiffs filed requests in June seeking nearly $700,000 in legal expenses that they claim should be covered by the state. However, the judges followed with an order giving the attorneys narrower rules for filing claims and told them to refile the paperwork.
Attorneys for 15 of the individuals responded by the deadline, submitting total requests only 4 percent lower than the previous total.
In their order last week, the judges told parties to spell out how much of their costs came from presenting specific redistricting proposals in court and how much of those proposals were reflected in the court-drawn political maps.
However, the state’s filings said that some of the attorneys ignored the narrower order.
“It also appears that this case was overstaffed,” Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay wrote. He also argued that the requested hourly rates aren’t justified, noting that few, if any, of the attorneys were experts in redistricting cases.
Plaintiffs had competing interests and the judges must decide who prevailed in the case, because only individuals who prevailed are eligible to have legal expenses covered by the state.