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Sole v. Wyner

Published: April 3, 2007

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.