Monday, June 6, 2011

McDonald v Chicago—Who Pays?

The law can be complicated, as this ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit shows this mere citizen.

In the case of NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC., et al. (Plaintiffs-Appellants) v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, and VILLAGE OF OAK PARK, ILLINOIS (Defendants-Appellees) it is more like a game official deciding if the ball is dead.  Chicago and Oak Park, IL, argued it was dead in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010) and the plaintiffs argued it was not and thus they deserved to receive legal fees from the defendants.  It turned on where the case was when the two local governments changed their gun control laws.  A US District Court ruled that since the two entities acted quickly to heal their Constitutional evilerror, the issue had died before it was decided in court, based upon a US Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment DID apply to the States, and cited precedent.

The Seventh Circuit saw it differently.  While the case never went to court, the power of the US Supreme Court was such that both municipalities threw in the towel.
This litigation was over except for the entry of an injunction by the district court. Chicago and Oak Park capitulated, which made the exercise unnecessary.  By the time defendants bowed to the inevitable, plaintiffs had in hand a judgment of the Supreme Court that gave them everything they needed.  If a favorable decision of the Supreme Court does not count as “the necessary judicial imprimatur” on the plaintiffs’ position (Buckhannon, 532 U.S. at 605), what would?
Then there was the appeal.  The Seventh Circuit ruled:
The district court’s decision is reversed, and the cases are remanded for awards of reasonable attorneys’ fees under §1988.
Is this the end?  Probably not, given that it is the courts, which is worse than a bickering couple.  There will always be work for accountants and lawyers.

A hat tip to the Instapundit, and my thanks to Reason:  Hit and Run.

Regards  —  Cliff


nealcroz said...

There probably is no way to discuss the issues of this matter rationally as the issues are already inflammatory in the extreme. The defendants in this case were bent on disarming the populace by regulatory fiat. That violated the 2 Amendment. The NRA and other citizens called them on it. They persisted. The NRA then began legal action against the defendants who continued the assault on 2 Amendment rights (and frankly...continue to do so but in a different direction). Thus, in order to counter that assault, the NRA's legal efforts continued until it became obvious that the defendants were on failing ground at which point they withdrew from the legal battle and took down the regulation.

However, funds were expended to fight the wrong...and it WAS and IS wrong. Arguably, the defendants engaged in this battle knowing that they would never win, but inflicting what damage they could before withdrawing. That the suit was never brought IN court prevented NRA for filing a motion against the defendants for engaging in a frivolous law suit...a matter that would have resulted in punitive judgements as well as attorney fees.

The appellate court is correct. If you poke me and I defend myself while you continue, and then you cease claiming that you just got religion, I am still entitled to the costs of having to defend myself against your frivolous pokes.

This has become a tactic all to frequently used particularly in this current Administration. Initiate some legal action which will then drag on infinitum at increasingly great expense..and then....drop it on some egalitarian or enlightened basis. In short, the ONLY intent for the action was punish an entity for refusing to just buckle under. LA is experiencing it. AZ is experiencing it. UT is just beginning to experience it as is GA.

kad barma said...

I wonder if all those gay people suing to have their rights respected are going to receive as much support from the right as gun owners?

My favorite story of this sort is the recent "foreclosure" (actually, seizure of property to settle the debt) against Bank Of America who insisted on ignoring a court order to reimburse wronged plaintiffs. Sometimes the good guys do win...

nealcroz said...

I am just guessing that there are just as many gay and lesbian folks on the right as there are on the left....and both are very likely equally vocal about respecting their rights. Gun owners have no edge over anyone in that arena.

That the BoA was foreclosed on was the happiest moment I've experienced in decades. I have NEVER had much respect for BoA or Citbank for that matter. I suppose the rest are just as sleazy, but at least have the decency to at least make you feel good while their giving you the business. The ONLY banking entity that I deal with today and have for over 20 years now is USAA.

kad barma said...

Enterprise here in Lowell no longer sells their mortgages to Citi, so I can recommend them with a clearer conscience. They've always treated me well.