The District of Columbia's time and billing records for work spent defending the handgun ban up to the Supreme Court will remain a secret—at least for now.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today ruled for the city in granting a protective order. The protective order blocks a request for information filed by plaintiffs’ attorney Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky in Alexandria, Va. Gura, who persuaded the Supreme Court to overturn the handgun ban in 2008, is asking for more than $3.5 million in fees.
Gura sought a variety of records from the city—including time sheets, billing statements and invoices documenting the time the District and its attorneys spent in the litigation. He said in court papers that the city’s time and expenses—given the counsel the District received from the private practitioners—is relevant to his fee petition.
Sullivan, however, concluded that a comparison of the District’s time records and fees would not assist him in resolving the plaintiff’s fee petition. “While the Court does not foreclose the possibility of a plaintiff ever obtaining discovery from a defendant as to a fee petition, the Court finds such discovery unnecessary in this case,” Sullivan wrote in an order today.
In his order, Sullivan pulled a line from the Supreme Court's ruling in 1983 in Hensley v. Eckerhart, where the court said a request for fees should not result in a second major litigation.
The judge denied Gura’s request without prejudice, saying that the District’s records could become relevant in the coming months as the fee litigation proceeds. Gura was instructed yesterday to file a revised fee petition by no later than June 18. Sullivan asked the lawyers to address the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision on fee enhancements.