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Paul Weiss Can Bill Oklahoma Up to $1.4 Million in Tribal Case

May 12, 2022, 8:45 AM

Oklahoma will pay Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison up to $1.4 million for its follow-up work on a landmark 2020 Supreme Court decision on tribal sovereignty.

The state, which had sought to overturn the ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, had initially signed a $700,000 contract with Paul Weiss and its top appellate litigator, Kannon Shanmugam, in July 2021.

Paul Weiss and the state attorney general’s office signed an addendum this week doubling the maximum total for the agreement, according to documents obtained Wednesday by Bloomberg Law under the an open records request with the state.

Shanmugam argued before the justices on April 27 that Oklahoma should still be able to prosecute certain crimes committed on American Indian reservations. Tribes had hailed the McGirt decision as a long-overdue affirmation of their sovereignty while Oklahoma officials said it had led to chaos in the state’s criminal justice system.

At the argument, Shanmugam stressed the state’s “interest in ensuring public safety” as crimes have gone unprosecuted after McGirt. Officials have raised those alarms before and since McGirt, while federal caseloads increased and the state adjusts to the new criminal-justice framework.

Under the original July 2021 agreement, Shanmugam agreed to bill the state at a rate of $912 per hour, which the agreement said was a 50% discount. Another Paul Weiss attorney, William Marks, billed at a discounted rate of $580 per hour.

An addendum dated Sept. 17, 2021, added two other attorneys: Jing Yan, who billed at $525 per hour, and Yishai Schwartz, at $482 per hour.

Shanmugam declined comment on the latest development. Reuters reported on the initial agreement last August.

—With assistance from Jordan Rubin

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com