Chicago's Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities was the focus of a recent decision by HUD ALJ William C. Cregar, who ordered payment of $23,842 in fees to the Leadership Council for the work of its attorneys.
Chicago Respondent Must Pay Fees For Fair Housing Attorneys
Judge Cregar had already found in October 1993, that respondent Stanley Jancik had violated the Fair Housing Act. In that order the Chicago fair housing group won damages, a civil penalty, and an injunctive order.
But Jancik contended that the Council attorney and other intervenors were not entitled to fees because their employees are salaried employees of a nonprofit group. Jancik sought but was denied an Oral Hearing before Cregar.
Cregar ruled the Council was entitled to the fees requested. He said the "Intervenors are entitled to attorney fees regardless of whether they retained private counsel or were represented by a public interest or nonprofit organization."
He continued, "Moreover, the amount awarded should not be decreased because attorneys are employed by the nonprofit organization which is also a party. Rather, Intervenors are entitled to compensation at a rate comparable to that charged in the private sector."
Hourly Rate and Hours Upheld
Respondent Jancik also contested the rates and the number of hours claimed by the Leadership Council attorney and staff. General Counsel Edward Voci claimed 95 hours at a rate of $210 an hour for a total of $20,000. And law clerk Mark Freedman, a second year law student at the time, charged 120 hours at a rate of $32 an hour for a total of $3,840. They submitted complete, itemized work schedules with dates, time expended, and work performed.
Cregar found that Voci's "experience and expertise do, in fact warrant an hourly rate of $210," and this rate was the "prevailing market rate." He said Voci had been General Counsel since 1991 and had tried over 100 cases and was presently litigating over 50 cases. The Judge also found the $32 hourly rate for law students and clerks to be the prevailing rate in Chicago law firms. The respondent has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Leadership Council v. Stanley Jancik, HUD ALJ No. 05-91-0969-1
Filed with HUD 5-22-91
HUD Charge Issued 10-19-92
ALJ Initial Order 10-1-93
ALJ Fee Order 2-10-94