Thursday, April 07, 2011

Something's fishy

Something is rotten in Denmark.  Something doesn't add up.  This doesn't pass the sniff test. Whatever cliched phrase you want to use, but it just seems like there is more this story than has been reported.

The Idaho Republican Party sued the Idaho Secretary of State to force a closed primary, and won.  In his order in favor of the IRP, Judge Winmill did not order the state to pay attorney fees.  Nevertheless, the legislature just voted to pay $100,000 of the $120,000-ish in fees and costs claimed by the lawyer for the IRP.  That lawyer, Christ Troupis, says he took the case on a contingency fee basis, so that he'd get paid only if he won.  Since they won, the IRP sought fees.

Well, I've never heard of a contingency fee case that didn't involve a monetary recovery.  You know, 1/3 of any amount awarded for damages sustained, or whatever percentage.  Well, here there was no monetary recovery, just the ruling that the IRP could hold a closed primary.  No number upon which he could figure his fees.  Which is unusual, if not downright weird. 

Also, why would he do this?  Out of the goodness of his heart?  Because he knew the cause was just?  Because he was extremely confident of a win? 

Attorney fees is cases like this are not a gimmee.  They are discretionary.  That is, the judge may or may not award them.  And if they are awarded, they are often reduced.  I haven't seen the pleadings, so I can't say if they asked the judge for attorney fees.  Since the judge didn't award them, either they didn't ask, or they did and the judge refused. 

If they asked and were refused, the state ought not pay.  After all, that would be a ruling that the IRP wasn't entitled to the fees.  If they didn't even ask the judge for the fees, then why should the state pay?  Did they not ask because they thought they might lose?  If so, then this smells a lot like a fix was in.  Don't ask the judge and lose, just wait and we'll see that the good ol' boys in the legislature take care of you.  Is that what happened? 

It's possible that they did ask and the judge just punted on the issue; doesn't seem likely, though.

I smell a rat.

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