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Illinois: NRA Recovers Another $98,000 in Attorney’s Fees, on Top of 1.3 Million Already Recovered For Work on the U.S. Supreme Court McDonald Case and Related Cases

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On November 21, 2012, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarded the National Rifle Association (NRA) $98,000 in supplemental attorney’s fees for its hard work on litigating its original motion for attorney’s fees, which got the NRA over 1.3 million dollars.  A copy of the previous bulletin about NRA’s recovery of 1.3 million dollars can be viewed here
 
NRA’s now total recovery is now more than 1.4 million dollars as a result of its hard work in litigating NRA v. City of Chicago and NRA v. Village of Oak Park, and for its role and significant work as a party in the Supreme Court case McDonald v. City of Chicago. Click on the case names to view the court filings in these cases. 
 
These three cases were filed shortly after the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision was issued which struck down a Washington D.C. law banning handgun possession, and recognized an individual right to self-defense and to keep and bear arms.  These cases were designed to get the Supreme Court to resolve the issue of whether the Second Amendment, in addition to prohibiting the federal government infringement, also prohibited state and local governments from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.
 
When the McDonald case was accepted by the Supreme Court, the NRA was deemed a party to the McDonald case under Supreme Court Rule 12.6 by virtue of its role as a party in the two consolidated Chicago and Oak Park cases.  As a full-fledged party in the McDonald case, the NRA filed its own legal briefs to persuade the Supreme Court Justices of the NRA’s position. Multiple other non-party groups also weighed in on the case through amicus briefs, including the CRPA Foundation.
 
The Supreme Court’s McDonald decision held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment and thus, fully applicable to the States.  In the wake of the ruling, the Supreme Court remanded the McDonald case, as well as the two NRA cases, back to the Court of Appeal to address the City of Chicago’s and the Village of Oak Park’s unconstitutional handgun bans.  But before an injunction could be issued by the lower courts, both Chicago and Oak Park repealed their handguns bans.
 
Because the challenged ordinances were repealed, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals did not need to address the injunction issue. Instead, it vacated the original rulings of the U.S. District Court (which had granted the City of Chicago’s motions for judgment on the pleadings against McDonald and the NRA), and then sent all three cases back to the District Court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot (because the ordinances were repealed).
 
But the Seventh Circuit Court also instructed that “[i]f plaintiffs [both McDonald and NRA] believe that the repeals [of the ordinances] entitled them to attorneys’ fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1988, they may file appropriate motions in the district court.”

After the parties filed their respective motions for attorney’s fees, the District Court denied them because the ordinances were repealed before an injunction or judgment was entered.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, on the other hand, overturned the District Court’s ruling and recognized that the NRA was indeed a prevailing party in each of the three cases, including the McDonald case in the Supreme Court, and that the NRA was entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees for all the work its lawyers did, including work in the U.S. Supreme Court. 
 
Finally, in June 2011 the cases were once again all sent back to the U.S. District Court to calculate the amount of the fee awards. 
 
In September 2011, the McDonald lawyers resolved their attorneys’ fees claims for work on the McDonald case for slightly less than $400,000.00.
 
NRA continued to litigate the fees issue and was awarded over 1.3 million dollars in August 2012.  One month later NRA filed a motion for supplemental attorney’s fees which sought to recover its attorney’s fees and expenses incurred in litigating its original motion for attorney’s fees. 
 
On November 20, 2012, the NRA filed its unopposed motion for supplemental attorney’s fees, for the work its lawyers did no the original fees motions. The City of Chicago and Village of Oak Park believed that the $98,000 should be divided evenly between them.  The Court granted NRA’s motion the following day, awarding the NRA $49,000 against the City of Chicago and $49,000 against the Village of Oak Park.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.