A Houston lawyer is asking for $4.4 million in fees for his work on a civil rights lawsuit that resulted in District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal’s resignation and a $1.7 million settlement with the county, reports the Houston Chronicle. Harris County argues that attorney Lloyd Kelley is charging far too high an hourly rate and has submitted many “unexplained expenses” related to a wrongful arrest lawsuit. The county argues Kelley is not entitled to double his fees because of the case’s complexity and risk – or because of his desire to punish the county.
Officials agreed to pay “reasonable” legal fees accumulated by Kelley and his associates for their work on the case. Kelley contended when he submitted his request for payment that courts should be as harsh on those who mount “frivolous defenses” as they are with lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits. “When I took the case, what should have happened is the county should have admitted liability,” Kelley said. “So they would have saved most of this money.” The county takes issue with the $650 hourly rate charged by Kelley, saying the prevailing local hourly rate is closer to $250 to $350.