Class Action News

Class Counsel Nets $1M in Guam Voting Rights Case

April 8, 2019, 4:40 PM

Attorneys representing Guam residents blocked from voting in the island’s self-determination referendum will take home nearly $1 million for their successful efforts.

The Washington-based attorneys properly billed at Washington rates rather than local rates because only one local attorney would take the case, Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood wrote for the U.S. District Court of Guam.

Guam attorneys were unwilling to take the case because of its political nature. The one local attorney lacked the expertise to handle the case alone, the court said.

Arnold Davis—a white, non-Chamorro resident of the U.S. territory of Guam—was barred from registering to vote on the referendum, which asked native inhabitants if they preferred independence, free association with the U.S., or statehood.

The district court found in 2017 that the bar violated the 15th Amendment’s prohibition on racial discrimination in voting and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The court granted Davis’s attorneys $950,000 in fees and costs.

Davis made every effort to avoid costs by asking the U.S. Justice Department to take the case on his behalf. When DOJ refused, he was compelled to seek private representation, the court said.

Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP, Election Law Center PLLC, Center for Individual Rights, and Mun Su Park in Tamuning, Guam, represented Davis.

The case is Davis v. Guam, 2019 BL 123322, D. Guam, No. 11-35, 4/8/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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