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Fox v. Vice
What’s at stake?
The balance between allowing people whose civil rights are violated to seek justice in court, and protecting defendants when suits are deemed frivolous.
Whether a plaintiff in a civil rights action must pay federal statutory attorney’s fees when the plaintiff’s federal claims are deemed frivolous but the state claims are not.
June 6, 2011
9-0 in favor of Fox. Justice Kagan delivered the opinion.
Ricky Fox, a candidate for police chief in Vinton, Louisiana, was the victim of an extortion plot engineered by the incumbent chief. The incumbent was convicted of criminal extortion as a result of the plot. Fox sued the incumbent in a state court for federal civil rights violations and related claims based on state law. The Fifth Circuit deemed Fox’s federal claims to be frivolous but did not address the merits of his state claims. The court also ordered Fox to pay all of the convicted extortionist’s legal fees based on a federal statute allowing the court to order payment of fees to the successful party when a claim is deemed frivolous. Fox argued that the court could not award the defendant all of his attorney’s fees when only federal claims are deemed frivolous but state claims requiring an examination of the same facts are not.
- Brief for Petitioner Ricky D. Fox
- Reply brief for Petitioner Ricky D. Fox
- Brief for Respondent, Billy Ray Vice, Chief of Police for the Town of Vinton, and the Town of Vinton
- Declaration of Joshua Rosenkranz in Support of Letter Brief
- Brief for the Liberty Institute, CATO Institute, the Independence Law Center, Institute for Justice Texas Chapter, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Support of Petitioner
- Brief for American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Impact Fund, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Legal Aid Society of New York City, the National Employment Lawyers Association, New York, the National Fair Housing Alliance, People for the American Way Foundation, and Public Justice in Support of Petitioner
- Brief for Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming in Support of Respondent
- Brief of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the International City/County Management Association, the United States Conference of Mayors, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association in Support of Respondent