Devin Nunes' Favorite Lawyer On The Hook For Over $20k In Sanctions
from the pay-up-biss dept
Last month we wrote that Rep. Devin Nunes’ favorite lawyer, Steven Biss, who has been filing frivolous, vexatious SLAPP suit after frivolous, vexatious SLAPP suit, was finally facing some sanctions. The specific case did not directly involve Nunes, but rather one of his aides, Derek Harvey, who had filed a ridiculous SLAPP suit against CNN. As we wrote last month, the court had easily tossed the original lawsuit and warned Biss not to file an amended complaint unless he had a credible legal theory. Biss did not have a credible legal theory, but he still filed an amended complaint. And thus, the court issued sanctions, saying that Harvey, Biss and other lawyers would be on the hook for CNN’s legal fees.
The latest filing in the case is the bill coming due. Harvey and Biss need to pay CNN $21,437.50 in legal fees (and an additional $52.26 in costs and expenses). That might not seem like that much in the grand scheme of things (especially for a lawyer who has claimed his client, Devin Nunes, is owed over a billion dollars for defamation, but it is still real money that someone is going to need to pay — though it remains an open question as to who is actually going to pay it).
There’s not much to see in the ruling itself, as it basically says that the fees CNN’s lawyers outlined are within the standards that the court’s local rules say are “presumptively reasonable.” The lawyers admit that they’re actually asking for less than they normally charge in order to keep them “reasonable” in the Court’s eyes, and the Court basically says “sounds good.”
It does often seem that lawyers who file tons of frivolous and vexatious lawsuits are able to get away with it for a while, with courts giving them many, many chances and being extremely reluctant to issue sanctions. And, even when sanctions are issued, they tend to be relatively low. However, with such repeat offenders, we’ve often seen that courts across the country take notice, and once one court has sanctioned this kind of behavior, it can open the floodgates. We’ll see what happens in other Biss lawsuits.