I really should just start a daily column on the latest nonsense from the StopTheACLU folks. Here's their entry for today.
The ACLU is receiving a TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR SETTLEMENT as compensation for suing the government over the way names get on the no fly list after two whiny little journalists were detained at San Francisco while checking in for a flight to boston.
For those of you that wonder how the ACLU gets their slimy, traitorous hands on our hard earned tax dollars, here ya go;
The government will compensate the ACLU for attorneys' fees, settling a lawsuit initiated by two San Francisco peace activists who were detained while checking in for a flight three years ago.
As usual, they ignore all the important things about the case and get even the minor point they're trying to make wrong. The ACLU won't get the settlement money for this, the law firm that did the work pro bono will get it. In this case, that is the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in San Francisco. If they had lost the case, they would have had to eat all of the costs of the case. If they win, they'll usually get a portion of their legal fees awarded to them and only have to eat some of those costs. But in this case, the government settled the case because they knew they would lose.
And of course, our intrepid anti-ACLUers ignore all of the important things about the case. Like the fact that the government was playing games with the discovery process, refusing to reveal why Janet Adams and Rebecca Gordon were put on the no fly list that is supposed to be reserved for suspected terrorists. These two women are no threat to anyone, but they do publish a political newsletter that is critical of President Bush. That alone apparently makes them suspect in the eyes of the government.
You don't exactly have to be a raving leftist to be outraged that perfectly legal, in fact constitutionally protected, political expression can land you on a terrorist watch list. Or to find it absurd that the government tried to cover up the reasons why they put the women on the list by filing what the judge himself called "frivolous claims of exemption." The government was going to lose the case and lose badly, so they settled it.
But at the end of the day this tale does have one small, amusing bit...the Bush hating enemies of Freedom that caused this ruckus in the first place won't get one danged dime.
Actually, the plaintiffs never asked for any money, they just wanted their names cleared. And the only ones here who appear to be "enemies of freedom" are those who restrict the right of American citizens to travel freely without justification. But hey, why let those pesky facts get in the way of a good rant?
You need a counter site: StopTheStopTheACLU.
In what sense was this firm acting "pro bono" then? Or am I missing something from English legal language?
The firm is acting pro bono because they must win the case to get even a portion of their fees back. If they don't win the case, they have to eat the entire cost of the trial. If they do win the case, they only have to eat most of the cost of the trial. Even in the best of circumstances, most of their work is not compensated (the average fees award is probably only about 1/3 of the actual fees).
If my latin is correct (or if U2's Bono Latin is correct) pro bono means "for good", not "for free." In other words, the Law Firm is engaging in this work for reasons *other* than the money. Award money is just gravy. I would bet that the contract with the ACLU is *very* clear about where any eventual settlement money goes. 8^)
I wish the government would stop settling these cases so we could get a good judgment that could be used to try to control the authoritarian tendencies of this government.
Actually, I think their politics probably had nothing to do with them ending up on the no fly list. Apparently first names as surnames are commonly used as aliases and that can be enough to get you on the list. I know someone named Richards (who was actually a fireman trained to deal with airport emergencies!) who was on the no fly list and almost missed his flight. Both Gordon and Adams fit this pattern. The government might of settled so they would not have to admit how arbitrary and useless the list is.
Someone named Adams might end up automatically on a no-fly list ???
How about John Adams or John Quincy Adams? They are clearly suspicious characters.
In "Science and Creationism", the collection of essays (edited by Ashley Montagu) on the Arkansas creationism trial, Michael Ruse addresses the ACLU/pro bono issue in his essay. He points out that very wealthy, high-powered law firms donate their young associates to pro bono ACLU cases for a very good (and selfish) reason: valuable trial experience. The community service credibility is a bonus.
This is probably the lowest-risk way for a firm to get them the experience -- if the young lawyers screw up, the firm and its clients don't feel the pain.
I don't know if there was a monetary award for that trial, but since the state lost, I wouldn't be surprised if they had to pay part of the legal cost.
Q: Since a firm donates what would otherwise be billable time, do they get a tax break? Certainly not on costs that get reimbursed in settlement.
Just remind the STACLU folks: the Bush administration agreed to pay (offered to pay?) this settlement money. They could have taken it to trial.