Disagreement Over Attorney Fees for Inmate Appeal

, The National Law Journal

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Judge Mary Murguia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

In September, the University of Montana Law School’s Criminal Defense Clinic responded for Woods, accusing the petition of “overriding hyperbole.” The response suggested allowing the issue to percolate through additional circuits.

The Ninth Circuit had directed the clinic to respond to the petition, indicating some level of interest in taking up the matter en banc. Responses to en banc petitions are not automatically allowed.

If the en banc court declines to step in, the case could reach the Supreme Court soon.

Attorney fees are already on the high court’s radar.

In the new term, the Supreme Court will hear two cases about fees in patent disputes. Companies have complained that they are forced to settle infringement lawsuits, even frivolous ones, because the costs of litigation are too high. They hope the justices will make it easier to collect attorney fees, to deter so-called patent trolls.

Last term, the Supreme Court decided an attorney fee case in the context of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and another, without argument, in an abortion protest clash.

Murguia’s brother Carlos is a federal district judge in Kansas, their home state. The two are the first brother and sister pair of federal judges. Another sister, Mary’s identical twin Janet, is the president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

Circuit Split Watch is a monthly column examining federal appellate splits that may lead to Supreme Court review. The author, attorney Michelle Olsen, publishes Appellate Daily, a Twitter feed and blog about federal appeals.

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