The state of Texas must pay more than $600,000 in fees to lawyers for two same-sex couples who successfully challenged the state’s ban on gay marriage, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that the charge — $585,470 in attorney fees and $20,203 in other costs — was excessive.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio, who originally approved the fees in 2015, “acted well within” his discretion in ordering the payments, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said Tuesday.
Paxton’s office is weighing options, spokesman Marc Rylander said. “We are disappointed in the ruling and are considering our next steps,” he said.
Lawyers for the two couples originally submitted a bill for $720,794 in attorney fees, saying the figure came at a substantial discount from rates they typically charge. But Garcia reduced the hourly rate he would pay for eight lawyers and two paralegals, cutting the fees to $585,470.
In a dissent accompanying the ruling, Justice Jennifer Walker Elrod said that while she agreed with “the bulk of the fee award,” the lawyers billed for items that she believed were not eligible for reimbursement — including work on an unsuccessful motion and time spent discussing the case with reporters.