CASE LAW UPDATE:  Whether attorneys’ fee could be awarded after a consent decree?

Plaintiffs had filed suit to challenge portions of North Dakota’s election statutes.  The parties ultimately resolved the case through a consent decree.  Plaintiffs moved for an award of attorneys’ fees.  The District Court granted the motion, over defendant’s timeliness objection.  Defendant appealed.  On appeal, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that plaintiff’s motion was untimely.  However, the Court also found that plaintiff’s reasonable interpretation that a preliminary injunction was not the appropriate point to request attorneys’ fees constituted excusable neglect for the untimeliness of their motion.  Affirmed.

This seemingly innocuous case could be very important in regard your Second Amendment rights; namely, your ability to purchase a firearm.  When one goes to purchase a firearm, the dealer does what is called a NICs background check.  These NICs checks are essentially handled by the FBI.  All too often, the FBI wrongfully denies someone their ability to purchase a firearm; this constitutes a violation of your Second Amendment rights.  So, then, a person would have to challenge this in federal court. However, that is very expensive.  Hence, Congress put an attorney’s fee award provision in the statute, section 925A, so that a person wrongfully denied his Second Amendment rights will not be out $15,000 in attorney fees, or worse, do nothing, and forever be barred his right to purchase a firearm.  This is determined by whether the purchaser is considered a prevailing party.  So, this case may be helpful in that regard.

Sprit Lake Tribe v. Jaeger, MLW No. 77048, Case No. 20-2142, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Colloton, J.  Appealed from the United States District Court, District of North Dakota.

Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney Lynne Torgerson was not attorney of record in this case.

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