What I think is interesting about this is the quote from the judge where he seems to depart from decisions in Legal World (his purview) to statements about Physical World. Plus it seems like he is giving them bucks based on how much good they do in Physical World. All very confusing (what is real in Physical World and why they should get the money), and unmeasured in a direct logic path, if this quote is correct: their effects in Physical World are the “most important” reasons to give them (more) money. See the last sentence in the excerpt.
Here’s the link and here’s the excerpt (my italics). Perhaps the judge was quoted incorrectly?
Last year, a federal judge ended a court battle between environmentalists, ranchers and the U.S. Forest Service over the effect grazing had on threatened steelhead habitat.
During the nearly 10 years of litigation, U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty issued several injunctions that limited grazing at the request of the Oregon Natural Desert Association.
Grazing in the national forest is now governed by a new “biological opinion” developed by the government, which ended curtailments imposed by the court.
Haggerty ultimately concluded that ONDA won several of its legal claims against the Forest Service, which entitled the group to attorney fees and costs from the federal government.
The environmental group originally asked for nearly $1.4 million in compensation, which the government called “prodigious” and “excessive” because ONDA’s legal victories were modest.
The government also claimed the group inflated the requested amount by billing at premium “expert” rates for work that didn’t require extensive environmental experience.
However, Haggerty slapped down the government’s arguments, finding that the “fees requested are great, in large part because this case involved a large administrative record, complex scientific materials and a lengthy duration of time.”
“However, there is no doubt that the hours expended were increased dramatically by repeated delays caused by federal defendants and government counsel,” the judge said in a ruling.
If the defendant were a private party, Haggerty said he would have granted ONDA its full request. Because the money came from taxpayers, though, it deserved more scrutiny, he said.
While the government argued that the amount of compensation should be cut by up to 50 percent because ONDA didn’t prevail on all of its claims, Haggerty said the “federal defendants underrepresent the success plaintiffs achieved.”
The environmentalists “prevailed, or partially prevailed, on eight out of twelve claims eventually litigated, obtained substantial injunctive relief during the years prior to final judgment, and most importantly, were able to reverse the degradation of habitat in the MNF and achieve substantial protections for threatened steelhead,” the judge said.