On April 3, 2007, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Sole v. Wyner, asking the high court to affirm that attorney fees should be awarded in cases that involve successful preliminary injunction rulings.
Sole v. Wyner asks the Court to determine whether a party who is granted a preliminary injunction but does not secure final judgment on the merits should receive attorneys fees. Many civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act, have fee-shifting provisions that entitle a successful plaintiff to recover attorneys fees from the defendant; these provisions are designed to ensure access to the courts to vindicate constitutional rights.
The Brennan Center is often involved in election law cases in which a preliminary injunction is granted that will secure all the relief necessary to vindicate the constitutional right at issue. Once an injunction is secured, the case may then become moot quickly due to the election itself. In some of these situations, payment of attorneys fees has not been required because no final judgment was issued in the case. Additionally, it may also simply be a waste of resources to demand a full judgment on the merits after the injunction is issued.
The Centers brief highlighted this difficulty in the election law context, and asked the Court not to create a blanket rule that would preclude fees awards for all preliminary injunctions.
The brief was filed by Wendy Weiser and Renée Paradis of the Brennan Center, and pro-bono counsel Laura Brill, Jonathan Steinsapir and Abigail Krauser of Irell & Manella.