Federal judge tells DOJ to pay

Michael P. Tremoglie Mar. 27, 2012, 12:28pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas will award attorney fees and litigation costs to the state of Arkansas to be paid by the Department of Justice for a 2009 lawsuit against the state.

The DOJ lawsuit was "dismissed with prejudice" in 2011, meaning the suit cannot be brought again.

The award of about $150,000 is contingent upon the state filing an affidavit to amend their award motion so that it matches the precise language of the relative statute.

DOJ alleged the Conway Human Development Center, a state government operated residential facility for people with developmental disabilities in Arkansas, was violating the constitutional rights of its residents because it did not protect the well-being of them or provide them with adequate services.

The federal judge, Leon Holmes, said the allegations by the DOJ were without merit. He found the policies and practices of CHDC to be the norm.

"Most lawsuits are brought by persons who believe that their rights have been violated," he wrote. "Not this one."

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former lawyer in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. He commented on this case in National Review Online.

He wrote, "the concerned parents and guardians of the Conway patients opposed the division's claims. Many parents went so far as to take the witness stand to defend Conway: 'We're happy that he's in an environment where we know he's safe and he's going to get good sound medical care,' testified Michael Black about his teenage son. 'I can rely on them,' said another parent."

Von Spakovsky also noted that "during the Clinton administration, the Civil Rights Division was sanctioned in eleven different lawsuits, paying out more than $4.1 million in attorneys' fees and costs for filing frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits.

"By comparison, the much (and unfairly) criticized Bush Civil Rights Division had not a single such case."

He observed that the Obama DOJ seems to want to match the Clinton DOJ record.

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