federal judge has ordered Nebraska to pay more than $292,000 in attorney fees for a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of three Nebraska sex offender laws
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A federal judge has ordered Nebraska to pay more than $292,000 in attorney fees for a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of three Nebraska sex offender laws.
But the amount awarded was a fraction of what was sought by the attorneys who represented the sex offenders, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/V6GmOH ).
The laws, the most recent changes to the state's Sex Offender Registration Act, were passed in 2009 but put on hold as a result of the lawsuit before they were to go into effect in 2010.
Later that year, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf issued a ruling that left much of the laws intact, including a requirement to publish the names of convicted adult sex offenders. But the judge said a trial was needed to determine whether other parts violated the U.S. Constitution.
The provisions in question would have made it a crime for some sex offenders to use social networking sites, and also would have required them to notify law enforcement whenever they posted anything online. The judge struck down those requirements in October, after experts and convicted sex offenders testified about how the changes would affect them and their work.
Federal law authorizes district courts to award reasonable attorneys' fees to prevailing parties in civil rights litigation.
Stuart Mills, whose Omaha law firm represented the unidentified offenders, requested nearly $752,000 in attorneys' fees, more than $13,000 for preparing the application for attorneys' fees, and more than $26,000 in costs.
Deputy Nebraska Attorney General Katherine Spohn, who represented the state, argued the amount was unreasonable and should be reduced. She proposed a total award of $248,200.
In an order Friday, the judge approved nearly $292,600, the sum of the attorneys' fees to prepare the application.
The lawsuit also involved about 50 John and Jane Doe clients and more than 200 defendants, including the state of Nebraska, the Nebraska attorney general, the Nebraska State Patrol, local prosecutors and various law enforcement officers.
The state still could appeal Kopf's October ruling.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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