Since Richlin’s lawyer had used paralegals, the Board also awarded Richlin a little over $10,000 in costs for paralegal services based on a rate of $35 per hour. Believing he was entitled to bill for paralegal services at the market rate for attorneys of $125 per hour, Richlin’s lawyer appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
On appeal, the Court found that attorney fees could be reimbursed to a prevailing party at the market rate of $125 per hour under the federal Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 5 U.S.C. § 504 (a) (2). However, since paralegals aren’t attorneys, their services must be reimbursed as costs in the amount actually paid, under § 504 (a)(1). Since the amount awarded was never challenged by the Board, it was upheld by the Court, which dismissed the appeal. See: Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff, 472 F.3d 1370 (Fed Cir. 2006).
The U.S. Supreme Court accepted review, and remanded the case on June 2, 2008, reversing the appellate decision. The Supreme Court held that a prevailing party that satisfies the EAJA's other requirements is not limited in its recovery of paralegal fees to its attorney's cost for such services, but may recover paralegal fees at prevailing market rates. See: Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff, 128 S.Ct. 2007 (2008).
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login