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Georgia is paying $80,000 to a lawyer at one of the nation’s largest firms to handle the state’s side in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. Attorney General Thurbert Baker accepted the recommendations of deputies who argued that the case, in which a prison inmate claims the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, is so complex that the Law Department should seek help. Baker hired Gregory A. Castanias of Jones Day’s Washington office, according to an administrative order signed by the AG on Sept. 28. Castanias will be paid a one-time fee of $80,000, according to the order. He is scheduled to argue the case Wednesday before the high court, where he has argued one case and worked on five others. Baker, in a 2003 interview discussing a redistricting appeal, estimated that the cost of taking a case to the Supreme Court was $30,000 to $60,000. Memos obtained through an open records request suggest the state is receiving a deep discount on Jones Day’s services. Baker, through a spokesman, declined to comment on matters related to next week’s Supreme Court case. In another case that the high court will hear next week, Georgia v. Randolph, No. 04-1067, Senior Assistant Attorney General Paula K. Smith will argue for the state. Other states also have turned to private firms for Supreme Court help in recent years, part of an effort among state attorneys general to improve their appellate work, which is developing into an increasingly specialized subset of the legal profession. The Georgia ADA case involves an inmate who is seeking to sue the state for damages under Title II of the law, an issue that involves Congress’ 14th Amendment powers and states’ sovereign immunity, among other things. Goodman v. Georgia, No. 04-1236, consolidated with United States v. Georgia, No. 04-1203. The inmate, Tony Goodman, uses a wheelchair and claims he has endured cruel and unusual punishment because prison officials failed to accommodate his disability and special medical needs. Assistant Attorney General David E. Langford argued the case before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that Goodman could not sue the state for damages. Goodman is represented by Drew S. Days III of Yale Law School and Morrison & Foerster’s Washington, D.C., office; Samuel R. Bagenstos, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law; and Beth S. Brinkman and Seth M. Galanter of Morrison & Foerster, in Washington. Officials in the attorney general’s office wrote in memos that the complexity of the case required outside help. “I strongly recommend that we hire Mr. Castanias and his firm,” Deputy Attorney General Kathleen M. Pacious wrote in a memo to Baker. “There are over 100 cases that need to be researched and a significant legislative history to be examined.” Jones Day was third in The American Lawyer magazine’s 2004 rankings of the nation’s wealthiest firms. The firm and Castanias have worked on two previous Supreme Court cases that involved questions of states’ sovereign immunity, according to an Aug. 12 memo from the attorney general’s office. The state initially proposed paying $15,000 for Castanias’ help in preparing only the Supreme Court brief in the case, according to the Aug. 12 memo. That memo also said that Jones Day’s “normal fee would likely be in the $600,000 range for similar work. This represents a substantial reduction of their fee.” Castanias agreed to the $15,000, but in September, the AG’s office increased the contract to $80,000 so that Castanias would handle the oral argument, too. When asked if Jones Day typically discounts its fees for state governments, Castanias declined to comment, saying only that the firm does not lend pro bono assistance to states. “We were very pleased and quite flattered that the state has reposed that much confidence in us,” Castanias said. Jones Day’s appellate practice includes representation of states and state agencies, and two of the firm’s appellate lawyers have become state solicitors general. Kansas, Nevada and Alabama are among the states that have sought help from the firm in recent years. Next week, Langford is expected to sit with Castanias at the high court, according to a spokesman for Baker. The National Association of Attorneys General also suggested that Georgia might want to hire outside counsel, according to Pacious’ memo. The NAAG’s Supreme Court Project helps states with Supreme Court cases by editing briefs and organizing practice for oral arguments. Castanias said he has volunteered to help with previous NAAG moot courts, and NAAG is organizing a moot court this week to help him prepare for the Georgia case Some state attorneys general have cultivated their own, in-house Supreme Court experts. At least 30 states have solicitors general, up from eight in the late 1980s. “I have this sense that the Supreme Court and appellate bar are becoming more specialized,” said Alabama Solicitor General Kevin Newsom, “that it is less and less the case that the trial litigator, when he loses, files the notice of appeal and heads up to the court of appeals.” Georgia does not have a solicitor general, but that doesn’t mean the attorney general’s office lacks appellate expertise. For example, Susan V. Boleyn, who handles much of the state’s death penalty work, has argued at least nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court since 1984, according to a Lexis search.

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