MALDEF Attorneys Fees Delayed; Caught Up In Politics

Attorneys fees ordered by the court are tied to pay hikes for Illinois General Assembly

July 19, 2007

CHICAGO, IL – Yesterday, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation's leading Latino legal organization, and co-counsel Miner Barnhill & Galland were back in court in order to find out why the State of Illinois has not complied with United States District Court Judge David Coar's Order requiring the State of Illinois to pay attorney fees awarded to MALDEF. On August 18, 2003, Judge Coar awarded MALDEF attorneys' fees for their defense of the one Latino-majority congressional district in the case of King v. Illinois State Board of Elections. MALDEF is presently owed in excess of $253,799 while co-counsel is owed in excess of $319,500.

As a consequence of the State’s failure to pay the attorneys’ fees, Judge Coar initially sanctioned the State $100/day, and has since increased the fine to $500, $1,000 and now $1,500 per day. As of the end of today, the State’s fines exceed $138,000.

Payment of MALDEF’s attorneys’ fees are tied up in a bill Governor Rod Blagojevich has yet to sign. “It is undeniable that the fees are owed to MALDEF and it is unfortunate that the State of Illinois has failed to comply with a federal judge's order,” stated Ricardo Meza, MALDEF Regional Counsel. During the last quarter, the Illinois House and Senate passed SB 241, a supplemental appropriations bill to the State’s 2007 budget, which included MALDEF’s attorneys’ fees. However, that bill also included pay raises for the members of the Illinois General Assembly. Since its passage, on May 31, 2007, SB 241 has been sitting on Governor Rod Blagojevich’s desk waiting for signature. If the legislation is signed, MALDEF will demand immediate payment of its attorneys’ fees.

The next court date is scheduled for August 21, 2007 at 9:00 am in Courtroom 1419 of the Federal Dirksen Building.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund