The federal court has awarded U.S. Army Ranger veteran Paul A. Murphy only $480 in fees and not $1,886 as he had requested after winning in his lawsuit against Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero and Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson to stop them from enforcing the Commonwealth’s Weapons Act and the newly enacted Special Act for Firearms and Enforcement.
In an order last week, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona awarded Murphy $430 for clerk’s fees and $50 for service fees.
The government is liable to pay the fees.
In his bill of costs filed in court, Murphy said he spent $1,046.06 for “other costs” and $840 for the fees of the clerk, fees for service of summons and subpoenas, and fees and disbursement for printing.
In itemizing the “other costs,” Murphy said he lost 32 hours at $18.58 per hour, for a total of $594.56 in annual leave/time for case related issues and hearings.
He said he paid $201.50 in fees related to firearms applications and $250 for his flight to Guam so he could place his firearm in the Guam DPS Armory.
In her order, Manglona awarded Murphy $430 for fees of the clerk, and fees and disbursements for printing.
Manglona granted Murphy $50 in fees for serving summons.
Manglona did not award Murphy costs for lost annual leave time. She also denied his request for costs of his firearm applications and roundtrip flight to Guam to deposit his firearms with Guam DPS.
Manglona said applications of any sort and travel expenses do not fall within any of the six categories of fees that a federal court has the authority to pay.
In an order last Sept. 28, Manglona awarded costs to Murphy for bringing the lawsuit and ordered him to file itemized costs that he expended in filing the case.
Manglona, however, denied Murphy’s request for legal fees. As a pro se plaintiff he is not entitled to an award of attorney’s fees in a civil rights action.
In that same Sept. 28 ruling, Manglona declared unconstitutional the $1,000 excise tax on pistols and several provisions that the CNMI imposed under the newly enacted SAFE.
Manglona’s ruling favored most of the challenges that Murphy raised in his lawsuit that challenged certain provisions of the Commonwealth’s Weapons Control Act and SAFE.
A teacher, Murphy filed the lawsuit pro se or without a lawyer.
Manglona said the plaintiff has valiantly pursued all lawful efforts to protect and defend his rights in a community where the voice of the majority can often overpower the equally important rights of the minority.