Yakima has paid more than $981,000 in attorney fees and expert witness costs in its voting rights case with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to records released by the city today. The City Council voted 5-2 last week to appeal the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a judge in federal district court ordered the city to change its council elections system. City officials supportive of the appeal are hopeful a Texas voting rights case with the potential to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court could give their argument enough weight to reverse the lower court’s decision.
Since the case was filed in August 2012, Yakima has paid $612,767 in attorneys’ fees and costs and $368,806 in expert witness fees and costs through April 8, the date of the most recent invoice. The ACLU is also seeking more than $2.8 million from the city in legal costs associated with winning the case.
Yakima’s attorneys have tried to negotiate a settlement of those costs, but the city’s Seattle defense attorney, Francis Floyd, said last week those negotiations have been “unsuccessful.”
If the case does proceed before the 9th Circuit, Floyd said it would cost the city $100,000 or less in attorney costs and fees. An ACLU spokesman has said the organization is prepared to fight the appeal.