AG wants to cut gay marriage lawyer fees in half

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says 19 lawyers seeking $2.3 million for their work in overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage only deserve $1.1 million.

Further from The Tennessean:

In a court document unsealed March 7, Slatery says lawyers in other states involved in the historic civil rights case asked to recoup much less money. He says the lawyers in Tennessee’s case — who are from around the country — are trying to take advantage of taxpayers by asking for excessive and unreasonable fees.

“It seeks to compensate the work of a legal team that ballooned to 19 attorneys, billing a total of nearly 6,000 hours,” the state’s filing reads. It says the lawyers’ documentation of time spent working on the case is vague, and alleges they duplicated work and charged for things they should not have — such as attending press conferences.

Slatery says several of the attorneys, including Abby Rubenfeld and a team from law firm Sherrard & Roe in Nashville, were unnecessary to the case after Washington, D.C., law firm Ropes & Gray got involved to prepare to argue at the U.S. Supreme Court.

…In November, lawyers who worked on behalf of the same-sex couples filed a motion asking a judge for $2.3 million for their work. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger will determine the amount of fees the lawyers should receive.

Detailed breakdowns of their hours worked on the case were sealed, meaning they were not available for public review.

Slatery’s response was also filed under seal, alongside a motion to make the hours-worked details public record. The lawyers for the couples responded by saying, essentially, we’ll unseal if you will too, and now all the documents are public.

The lawyers who worked for the same-sex couples note in court filings they’re already giving the state a $1 million discount by not charging for more than 400 additional hours of work. They say though lawyers in other states were paid less, each received nearly all of or more than they asked for.