The wages of unconstitutionality

A local columnist reminisces:

Salt Lake City attorney Brian Barnard used to sift through state and local statutes passed decades earlier and since declared unconstitutional, then find a plaintiff to fight them in court.

The laws were normally declared unconstitutional through agreement with government lawyers and the court. Barnard then would be paid attorney fees by the state.

But former Attorney General David Wilkinson disliked the idea of paying Barnard attorney fees, so for a time during his 1980s tenure, he would fight the claim of unconstitutionality. That would require Barnard to file more briefs, adding hours to his work and eventually giving him a fatter paycheck when the attorney’s fees came due.

One time, however, Wilkinson was so late in approving Barnard’s attorney fees that the civil rights attorney persuaded a judge to garnishee Wilkinson’s state salary to satisfy the payment. Wilkinson approved the payment right away.

(Paul Rolly, “Attorney steps on some toes”, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 9) (via State of the Beehive).

One Comment

  • Not sure who to hate more in this scenario… The lawyer who’s just using the system to get taxpayer money, or the idiots who don’t just go through and remove unconstitutional laws from the books…