Phoenix--A coalition of six policy organizations that agree on very few other issues came together yesterday in a friend-of-the-court brief arguing against efforts by the City of Phoenix and the developer of the CityNorth mall to collect $688,000 in attorneys fees from the Goldwater Institute in its challenge to a $97.4 million taxpayer subsidy for the mall.
In a brief on behalf of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (ACLPI), the Institute for Justice, the Center for Arizona Policy, the Arizona Tax Research Foundation, the Free Enterprise Club Political Action Committee, and the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLPI attorney Tim Hogan argues that an attorneys fees award would have a chilling effect on public interest litigation of all types.
The Goldwater Institute lost the opening round of the case and is appealing the decision to the Arizona Court of Appeals. CityNorth seeks a punitive attorneys fee award in part because of the Institutes intent to turn public opinion against CityNorth in order to put its case in a favorable light in the public arena.
The coalition brief counters that public speech about the vindication of important public rights is one of the most important freedoms we enjoy in this country. It should not form the basis for a punitive award of fees.
The groups supporting the Institute have litigated a broad array of public interest cases, ranging from eminent domain to parental notification of abortions to education to free speech.
This remarkable assemblage underscores the breadth and importance of what is at stake, as well as the frivolous and punitive nature of the Citys and CityNorths fee petitions, declared Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Were grateful to have this support.
The Goldwater Institute filed its opposition to the fee petitions yesterday as well. The matter is before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Miles, who has scheduled oral argument for June 9, 2008.