Attorney Fees

Los Angeles to pay $725K to lawyers in homeless rights case

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In the wake of losses in two federal appellate cases concerning policies that discouraged homeless individuals from living on the streets of Los Angeles, the city has decided to drop its U.S. Supreme Court appeal of an attorney’s fees award in one of the cases.

In a Wednesday vote, the city council agreed to pay $725,000 to attorneys representing the plaintiffs in a civil rights case concerning overnight police sweeps of homeless encampments, reports the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.).

After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the plaintiffs’ favor, the city reached a settlement in which it promised to stop arresting people sleeping on the sidewalks until it arranged for 1,250 new supportive housing units for them, an earlier Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) article explained. Although the 9th Circuit then vacated its opinion, a federal district court awarded $700,000 in attorney’s fees. The city then took the attorney’s fees issue to the nation’s top court.

Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel told the newspaper that Los Angeles and other California cities need to do more to try to help the homeless instead of harassing them into moving elsewhere. Mike Feuer, the city attorney for Los Angeles, said he is seeking funds for drug diversion programs and clinics to aid homeless individuals cited for low-level municipal violations.

In another case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June struck down a city ban on residing in a personal vehicle. The court’s opinion says that the ban was overbroad, arbitrarily applied and criminalized innocent behavior, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reported at the time. An earlier post provides additional details about the case.

It isn’t clear from news reports what legal fees the city may be required to pay concerning the 9th Circuit decision in the personal vehicle case.

See also: “9th Circuit Says Los Angeles Can’t Treat Personal Belongings of Homeless Individuals Like Trash” “Forbidden to randomly seize unattended homeless belongings, city asks SCOTUS to overturn ruling”

Associated Press: “High court refuses to let Los Angeles remove homeless’ belongings”

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