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Supreme Court to Hear Case on Merit-Based Attorneys' Fees

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By Kevin Fayle on April 06, 2009 3:30 PM

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case to determine whether judges can award extra attorney's fees to reward what they see as exceptional lawyering. 

The case, Perdue v Kenny A., involved a challenge to Georgia's foster care system.  The U.S. district court judge added extra money for the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees onto the original award because of the extraordinarily positive results that the attorneys achieved.  The 11th Circuit declined to overturn the decision.
The State of Georgia has appealed, asking the Court to resolve a split over the issue in the appellate circuits.

Should judges be allowed to make merit-based awards of attorneys' fees?  Will this encourage more effective representation, or just open the judicial system up to judicial subjectivity and favoritism? 

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