The federal government will pay more than $41,000 in legal fees and expenses after a Washington federal judge found U.S. Department of Justice lawyers committed “egregious misconduct” in their handling of discovery.
The underlying lawsuit involves a challenge to how the Federal Bureau of Prisons treats inmates classified as terrorists. On Jan. 15, U.S. District Senior Judge Royce Lamberth found lawyers in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington committed a series of errors in discovery, including missed deadlines, the production of discovery on a rolling basis and the submission of information without the proper signature.
Lamberth ordered the government to pay fees to the plaintiff’s lawyers, Michael Kirkpatrick and Jehan Patterson of Public Citizen Litigation Group, for the time they spent working on the discovery issues. Requiring the government to pay would make it “clear that the Court totally and categorically rejects the practice of the government in this case,” Lamberth wrote in January.
Kirkpatrick and Patterson requested $41,703. Kirkpatrick billed nearly 50 hours at an hourly rate of $510, and Patterson billed 46 hours at $360 per hour. The Federal Bureau of Prisons did not object to the amount. Lamberth today entered an order awarding the fees.
The plaintiff, Randall Todd Royer, also known as Ismail Royer, is serving a 20-year prison sentence after he admitted helping individuals gain access to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. He was housed in the general prison population for the first 3 1/2 years of his confinement, but claims he was subjected to more restrictive conditions after prison officials designated him as a “terrorist inmate” in late 2006.
Royer, a U.S. citizen born in Missouri, filed two lawsuits against the Bureau of Prisons in 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
He accused the bureau of failing to follow rulemaking processes required by federal law in adopting the “terrorist inmate” program. He also alleged the prison system wrongfully classified him as a “terrorist inmate” based on false information and denied him the opportunity to challenge the designation.
Lawyers for the government have defended the “terrorist inmate” classification and the adoption of the program. Lamberth denied the government’s requests to dismiss Royer’s lawsuits in March 2013.