Five years ago, when Mid-State Correctional Facility guardRobert Lockley sued a female colleague for sexual harassment, thestate could have short-circuited the litigation. All he wantedwas equitable relief, plus a little help with his legal bills,maybe $2,000.

But a week before jury selection in Burlington CountySuperior Court on May 10, the price of peace rose. Lockley’slawyers and paralegals at Edison’s Wong Fleming had a pile ofunpaid bills for more than 2,000 hours of work. They offered tosettle — fees and all — for $300,000.