Judge rules that state must pay nearly $225K to plaintiffs' attorneys in Kim Davis case

10/25/2017 04:54 PM

The state must pay more than $224,000 in legal fees and court costs owed to same-sex couples who sued Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in 2015 over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Attorneys representing Gov. Matt Bevin had asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to reconsider his July 21 ruling that state government pay $224,703 after the case was dismissed, but Bunning said their arguments fell short of convincing him to reverse the original decision.

They argued that Rowan County, not the state, is liable for any legal fees associated with the case, which was thrown out after the General Assembly amended marriage licensing forms in the 2016 legislative session.

But Bunning rejected that argument, saying that Davis acted as an agent of the state when she refused to issue marriage licenses.

“Third-Party Defendants’ argument that neither the Governor nor the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives “direct[ed], ratif[ied], or approve[d]” Defendant Kim Davis’s decision to withhold marriage licenses is irrelevant,” Bunning, who briefly jailed Davis for contempt in 2015 until staffers at the Rowan County clerk’s office indicated that they would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, wrote in his order.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is liable for Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs because Defendant Kim Davis acted on behalf of the Commonwealth when she refused to issue marriage licenses. Accordingly, Plaintiffs were ‘entitled to look for relief, both on the merits and for fees, to the governmental entity’ that Davis represented in her official capacity—the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Bunning also wrote that attorneys for the state arguing that his July ruling should be amended “have fallen woefully short of establishing the ‘exceptional or extraordinary circumstances’ required to warrant relief.”

Download Bunning’s ruling here: Bunning ruling on Kim Davis legal fees.pdf


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