Lawyers who fought Wisconsin marriage ban seek $1.2 million in legal fees

Kem Highfill, left, and Richard Rehm fill out their marriage license at county clerks office Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban. Andy Manis, AP

Kem Highfill, left, and Richard Rehm fill out their marriage license at county clerks office Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban. Andy Manis, AP

Kem Highfill, left, and Richard Rehm fill out their marriage license at county clerks office Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. after a federal judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.

MILWAUKEE — The lawyers who successfully fought to undo Wisconsin‘s ban on same-sex marriage are seeking to recoup $1.2 million in legal costs from the case.

Led by the American Civil Liberties Union, a group of same-sex couples sued Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials in February to overturn the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. A U.S. District Court judge overturned the amendment in July. The U.S. Supreme Court later let that decision stand, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin and four other states.

In a filing Friday, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them $1.2 million for attorney fees and other expenses from the case. Federal law allows winning parties in civil rights cases to seek awards for legal costs, they said.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the plaintiffs argued that those large costs are due to the state’s vigorous defense of the ban.

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“Defendants’ decisions to file multiple motions, conduct discovery, assert novel arguments, and frantically try to stop marriages from occurring increased the substantive and procedural complexity of plaintiffs’ counsels’ work in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, and thus the time required to competently prosecute the action,” the lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in their brief.

Thirteen lawyers and a team of paralegals spent 2,393 hours on the case, according to the brief, for a total of $1.2 million in attorney fees plus other expenses.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which defended the constitutional amendment, did not return a request for comment.

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