Federal District Judge William R. Overton has awarded $294,045.50 in legal fees and $55,627.61 in expenses to the American Civil Liberties Union for the lawsuit that struck down Arkansas' law requiring balanced treatment for "creation science" and evolution in the state's public schools.
The aclu sought $1.4 million in fees and expenses. The ruling came exactly one year after Judge Overton declared the law unconstitutional.
"Frankly," the judge wrote, "the court is stunned by the amount of time spent in preparation of this case."
The Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and Legal Services of Greater Miami, both counsel in Florida's literacy-test case (see Education Week, Sept. 28, 1981), have filed claims against the state for $580,000 in legal fees.
The state, however, contends that because both agencies were federally funded, they have already been paid for their services, according to a spokesman for the Florida Department of Education.
The case, Debra P. v. Turlington, was a class-action suit filed in 1978 on behalf of 10 black students. It involved the question of whether the state-mandated high-school "exit" test is discriminatory. The U.S. District Court in Tampa held that the test itself was not biased, but ruled that the test would "punish" students who had been educated in earlier years in a segregated system. The judge also ruled that the state had to delay using the test until 1983.
A federal appellate court subsequently upheld that ruling and remanded the issue to the district court. Hearings on the test will be held later this month or early next month.
Vol. 02, Issue 17