A comedian who was targeted by Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory in 2020 over fake antifa events could owe more than $30,000 in attorneys' fees to the Lafayette Consolidated Government, our media partners at The Advocate report.
John Merrifield, whose fake antifa events in the summer of 2020 prompted a real police response, filed through his attorney a special motion to strike the lawsuit in the 15th Judicial District Court, the Third Court of Appeals and the Louisiana Supreme Court. His motion was denied by all three courts, the newspaper reports.
"The stakes are undoubtedly high on a Special Motion to Strike," wrote James Gibson and Michael Adley, who are representing LCG, in an April 7 memo in support of its motion for attorneys' fees. "The prevailing party is entitled to all reasonable attorney fees incurred. For LCG, a loss would not only mean that LCG's lawsuit was dismissed but that LCG would also be paying Merrifield's attorneys' fees. For Merrifield, a loss would mean that the suit would continue and he would have to pay LCG's attorneys' fees. Merrifield was fully aware of these stakes and the consequences of a loss when he filed his Special Motion to Strike. Merrifield, however, was confident in a victory. Perhaps that is why both Merrifield and his counsel relied more on snark and personal attacks than law."
Andrew Bizer, who is representing Merrifield, and Adley, the LCG attorney, appeared in front of 15th JDC Judge Thomas Frederick on Monday to discuss attorneys' fees in the case, The Advocate reports.
Adley said Merrifield owes $33,047.50 in attorneys' fees to LCG for 179.2 billable hours of work on the special motion to strike. Bizer said there's no way of knowing if that's reasonable because LCG failed to produce an invoice of billable hours. Adley argued that producing such a document to Merrifield and his attorney would reveal LCG's strategy in the case, which is ongoing.
"I guess I can get this through a public records request," Bizer said to the judge.
"It's public funds," Frederick said. "It shouldn't have to go there."
The judge agreed that some sort of invoice would be necessary prior to requiring Merrifield to pay fees; to read about what happened click here.