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Judge Hits Debevoise Pro Bono Clients for ‘Unwarranted Persistence’


A federal judge in Manhattan has ordered Debevoise & Plimpton’s bicycle-riding pro bono clients to pay $16,000 for pursuing litigation when there was “no real hope of success.”

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in a civil-rights suit challenging New York parade regulations requiring permits for groups of 50 or more people who participate in a parade or race, the New York Law Journal reports. The plaintiffs were the Five Borough Bicycle Club and individual bicycle riders who participate in Critical Mass bike rides the last Friday of every month.

Kaplan said the case raised constitutional issues, but the plaintiffs showed “unwarranted persistence” in litigating the case, the story reports. Kaplan said pro bono efforts should generally be applauded, but “they should be undertaken with special attention to the need for ensuring that matters are not pursued without regard to a lack of realistic prospects for success … as well as the very real economic costs to adversaries.”

Kaplan said the plaintiffs should pay about half of the city’s litigation costs of $32,000.

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