Alan Gura is taking the District of Columbia's big Second Amendment case back to a federal appeals court, where the dispute this time is over legal fees and not gun ownership rights.
Gura and Clark Neily III of the Institute for Justice today filed a notice of appeal in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, announcing his intent to ask for a second opinion about how much he contends he is owed for his work securing the right to own a handgun in the District.
Gura, of Alexandria’s Gura & Possessky, wasn’t immediately reached for comment this afternoon about the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Neily said in an e-mail that "settlement discussions between the Heller’s legal team and the District of Columbia are ongoing, and we have filed our notice of appeal in order to preserve all available options."
A settlement would void the opportunity for the appeals court to weigh in on a high-profile fee dispute. The D.C. Circuit is intimately familiar with the litigation, which began in 2003 and grabbed national headlines five years later. The U.S. Supreme Court then struck down the city’s outright ban on handgun ownership.
Last December, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said Gura is entitled to $1.17 million in fees and nearly $4,900 in expenses. Sullivan rejected Gura’s request for more than $3.12 million in fees and expenses.
“Sensitive to the fact that the fees in this case will be paid by the taxpayers, this Court is left with the difficult task of closely scrutinizing plaintiff’s fee petition to determine what is fair, reasonable, and just compensation for the legal services of plaintiff’s attorneys,” Sullivan said in his decision.
Gura, the judge ruled, is entitled to $662,424 for his lead role in the litigation. Neily would receive $294,084 under Sullivan’s ruling.
Gura has called his fee request reasonable considering the length and complexity of the case, and based on his efficiency and success.