The Office of the Attorney General is opposing the request of U.S. Navy veteran David J. Radich and his wife, Li-Rong, for payment for their two lawyers in the total amount of $103,913.83 for attorney’s fees and expenses for prevailing in their lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the CNMI gun’s control law.
Assistant attorney general James M. Zarones said plaintiffs Radich couple are requesting fees that could not reasonably be billed to a private client.
Zarones said plaintiffs also failed to provide the U.S. District Court for the NMI with evidence of the prevailing market rates in the NMI.
Zarones is counsel for former Department of Public Safety commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero and Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, who are sued in their official capacity by the Radich couple.
Attorneys David G. Sigale and Daniel T. Guidotti are asking the court to award them attorney’s fees in the amount of $80,325 and $15,347.50, respectively. The lawyers are also requesting payment of $8,241.33 in costs.
In the defendants’ opposition, Zarones said plaintiffs’ attorneys are requesting fees for clerical work and work that should have been performed by paralegals.
Zarones said it was unreasonable for an attorney billing $500 an hour to spend .7 hours drafting the civil cover sheet.
Zarones said it was unreasonable for an attorney billing $500 an hour to spend time drafting an entry of appearance.
He said the government should not be required to pay attorney fees for conversations with third parties.
Zarones noted that on Nov. 18, 2012, Sigale traveled 2.4 hours to meet with an individual named Gray Peterson and that the meeting lasted an hour.
He said Sigale traveled again 2.5 hours to meet Peterson on Nov. 23, 2013, and that the meeting lasted an hour.
Zarones said Sigale discussed logistics and possibility of bringing a lawsuit in the first meeting and again discussed necessary steps for bringing a possible lawsuit in the second meeting.
Zarones said Peterson is not an attorney providing representation to plaintiffs in this case, nor there was any records indicate that Peterson had any relevance to this case.
Zarones said the government should not be required to pay for the duplicative effort of researching and drafting four separate complaints in this case.
He said Sigale should not receive $10,500 for his travel to the CNMI because the original complaint and motion for summary judgment were defective.
Zarones said the memorandum in support of attorney fees is a cut-and-paste document that fails to provide the court with the information necessary to establish the reasonable hourly rate to be applied.
Zarones said Sigale represents that he spent five hours researching and drafting a memorandum in support of his fee request.
However, Zarones said, the memorandum is nothing more than a copy and paste of a memorandum Sigale filed in a previous lawsuit.