Branch Immigration Litigation
US District Judge Jan Boyle recently ordered all parties involved in the Farmers Branch illegal immigration lawsuit to mediation. Farmers Branch is a city in Dallas County, Texas. The mediation will be overseen by US Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan. Kaplan is a member of a private arbitration and mediation firm based in Dallas.
The issue arose after litigation over a failed ordinance against illegal immigration in the town of Farmers Branch was attracting lawyers who typically earned up to $800 per hour. The city had already paid more than $6 million in illegal immigration related costs. Multiple lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs regarding everything from voting rights and sectioning of electoral districts to illegal immigrants renting housing in the city.
According to federal regulations, legal teams are entitled to reasonable costs. The prevailing legal teams in this case were two branches of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and a pro-bono unit of Bickel and Brewer, a Dallas corporate legal firm.
Despite the cost the city has already incurred, the City Council voted three to two to appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court turned down the appeal and allowed previous rulings to stand. The federal judge acknowledged that there is Supreme Court guidance on the effective highest rate and that rates upwards of $800 per hour are far more than the standard market rate. Each side is hoping to resolve the issue quickly and move on, but some are concerned mediation might not be enough to resolve the dispute.