CINCINNATI, Ohio – A battle over attorney’s fees began in earnest on Thursday in connection to legal fees incurred in the aftermath of former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Two cases were argued Friday inside of a United States Appeals courtroom in Cincinnati. The first focusing on whether or not the former clerk had sovereign or qualified immunity, and the second dealing with who is to pay legal costs incurred by the couples who challenged Davis.
The first case dealing with immunity debates whether Davis, in dealing with marriage licenses under state statute, acted on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, or just as a county official.
The second case, equally as complicated, addresses a previous court ruling stating the Commonwealth should be responsible for the more than $220,000 dollars in attorney fees for the couples. Governor Matt Bevin has stated he does not think the state should pay that bill.
“It is complicated and that rises from the previous administration,” says Roger Gannam, attorney for Kim Davis and the Rowan Clerk’s Office. “We are here because Governor Beshear would not provide accommodation. Governor Bevin did that immediately after taking office, but there is a legal issue now if the court awards attorney’s fees, which neither the Governor nor Kim Davis want to happen. But, if they do it is a legal issue over which entity has to pay for that. We think it should be the Commonwealth.”
Ria Tabacco Mar with the ACLU, on the other hand, says, “Kim Davis and the Governor’s Office are trapped in a game of hot potato over who pays. The truth is we think the wrong-doing started at the Rowan County Clerk’s office and it should end there.”
Should the clerk’s office get stuck with the bill, it may be a bitter pill for the current Rowan County Clerk. Back in November, Kim Davis was not elected to a second term as clerk, losing to Elwood Caudill, Junior.
Judges in the case will continue considering arguments, but a timeline for when a final ruling might be made remains hazy, with attorneys saying a decision could come in days, or in several months.