January 17, 1992
DENNIS J. HASTERT, HARRIS FAWELL, JOHN E. PORTER, PHILIP M. CRANE, HENRY J. HYDE, AND ROBERT H. MICHEL, Plaintiffs,
STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, JOHN J. LANIGAN, THERESA M. PETRONE, RICHARD A. COWEN, LAWRENCE E. JOHNSON, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, WANDA L. REDNOUR, AND HANNELORE HUISMAN, Defendants. WILFREDO NIEVES, AL JOHNSON, LINDA D. CORONADO, BOBBY RUSH, JESUS GARCIA, REV. WILLIE BARROW, RAFAEL BORIA, MIGUEL DEL VALLE, ROBERT L. LUCAS, LEON D. FINNEY, JR., REV. CLAY EVANS, JOSEPH GARDNER, LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, REGNER SUAREZ, JOSEPH BERRIOS, MIGUEL A. SANTIAGO, NEOMI HERNANDEZ, Plaintiffs, v. ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS, JOHN J. LANIGAN, THERESA M. PETRONE, RICHARD A. COWEN, HANNELORE HUISMAN, LAWRENCE E. JOHNSON, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, AND WANDA L. REDNOUR, Defendants. CARDISS COLLINS, CHARLES HAYES, REV. WILBUR N. DANIELS, REV. CLAUDE S. WYATT, HOWARD B. BROOKINS, DONALD L. WILLIAMS, PERCY GILES, AND RICKY HENDON, Plaintiffs, v. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, JOHN J. LANIGAN, THERESA M. PETRONE, RICHARD A. COWEN, JOHN P. DAILEY, LAWRENCE E. JOHNSON, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, AND WANDA REDNOUR, Defendants. ANN ROSEBROOK, DARYL BARKLOW, AMIEL CUETO, RICHARD MARK, JEANELLE NORMAN, CAROLYN TONEY, LEE BABCOCK, RAYMOND OLIVER, BARBARA POSHARD, WILLIAM MATHEWS, GERALD HAWKINS, AND EVA SAVALA, Plaintiffs, v. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, JOHN J. LANIGAN, THERESA M. PETRONE, RICHARD A. COWEN, LAWRENCE E. JOHNSON, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, WANDA L. REDNOUR, AND HANNELORE HUISMAN, Defendants. THE CHICAGO URBAN LEAGUE, CRAIG R. COLLINS, MARK ALLEN, AND NIKOLAS C. THEODORE, Plaintiffs, v. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, JOHN J. LANIGAN, THERESA M. PETRONE, RICHARD A. COWEN, JOHN P. DAILEY, LAWRENCE E. JOHNSON, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, AND WANDA L. REDNOUR, Defendants.
Before KANNE, Circuit Judge, NORGLE, District Judge, and CONLON, District Judge.
Before KANNE, Circuit Judge, NORGLE, District Judge, and CONLON, District Judge.
Per Curiam. Various plaintiffs and intervenors in this consolidated action regarding the remapping of Illinois congressional districts following the 1990 census now move pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to modify judgment to permit the awarding of attorneys' fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. §§ 19731(e) and 1988.
On November 7, 1991, final judgment was entered in these consolidated cases. Hastert v. State Board of Elections, 777 F. Supp. 634, slip op. 661 (1991). Judgment was entered in favor of the Hastert, Nieves, Collins, Rosebrook, and Chicago Urban League plaintiffs to the extent those parties requested that the then-existing Illinois congressional district plan be declared null and void. Id. slip op. at 64. Although each of the parties named the Illinois State Board of Elections and its members as the sole defendants in the separately filed actions, the Board did not possess the authority to provide plaintiffs with the relief they sought. Additionally, the Board did not dispute plaintiffs' contentions that population changes represented in the 1990 census rendered unconstitutional the existing congressional district plan implemented by federal court order following the 1980 census. See In re Congressional Dist. Reapportionment Cases, No. 81 C 3915, slip op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 23, 1981). However, because the Board of Elections remained bound to implement the terms of the federal court order that had created the outmoded congressional district plan, the Board remained a necessary party to the present actions. The Board thus served only as a nominal party and played no active role in the proceedings.
On November 20, 1991, the Hastert, Nieves and Chicago Urban League plaintiffs and Scott intervenors moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to modify the judgment and requested that the court award them fees and costs as prevailing parties under 42 U.S.C. §§ 19731(e) and 1988. The Collins plaintiffs filed a similar motion on November 21, 1991. On November 27, 1991, the Harold Washington Party/Savage intervenors separately moved to become additional parties to the Hastert motion to modify judgment.
Various plaintiffs and intervenors move pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to amend the November 7, 1991 judgment of the court to permit the award of attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. §§ 19731(e) and 1988. Ordinarily, a request for fees is a collateral issue to the main cause of action. See White v. New Hampshire Dep't of Employment Security, 455 U.S. 445, 451, 102 S. Ct. 1162, 71 L. Ed. 2d 325 (1982). However, this court's express order directing the parties to bear their own costs means that plaintiffs' requests for fees necessarily constitute a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend judgment. To be valid, a Rule 59(e) motion must be served "not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). The Harold Washington Party/Savage intervenors moved to join the present Rule 59(e) motions on the thirteenth working day, exclusive of weekends and holidays, after entry of judgment. Accordingly, the motion of the Harold Washington Party/Savage plaintiffs is denied as untimely. The court does have jurisdiction over the timely-filed Rule 59(e) motions of the remaining moving plaintiffs.
Under 42 U.S.C. § 19731(e), a court "in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of costs" in "any action or proceeding to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment." 42 U.S.C. § 19731(e). Under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, which was patterned in part upon the fee provision contained in § 19731(e), see Hanrahan v. Hampton, 446 U.S. 754, 758, 64 L. Ed. 2d 670, 100 S. Ct. 1987, n.4 (1980), a court may permit a similar award to a "prevailing party" in a suit to enforce the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 42 U.S.C § 1988. In enacting both of these statutes, Congress directed that prevailing parties "should ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust." S. Rep. 925, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 40 (1975), reprinted in 1975 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 774, 807 (citation omitted) (addressing § 19731(e)) ("S. Rep. 925"); S. Rep. 1011, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 4 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 5908, 5912 (citation omitted) addressing § 1988) ("S. Rep. 1101"). See also Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983) (citation omitted).
The moving plaintiffs are correct only in the technical sense that this court declared the previous congressional districts null and void. However, the issue of the constitutionality of the previous congressional districts was never in dispute. Indeed, after filing their respective complaints, none of the plaintiffs offered more than a passing reference to this subject; the unconstitutionality of the 1981 plan was dispensed with in a perfunctory footnote in the court's memorandum opinion. See Hastert, slip op. at 14 n.7. Fee claims cannot be reasonably justified on this basis. Thus, we turn to the various alternative arguments offered by the respective plaintiffs.
The principal issue in litigation during these proceedings involved the determination of which proposed plan for the entire State of Illinois best met constitutional and statutory criteria. All parties agreed that the new congressional district map should contain four minority districts--one Hispanic and three African-American super-majority districts. However, no prior Illinois congressional district map had contained an Hispanic super-majority congressional district. The creation of a super-majority district for the Hispanic "language minority" community residing in the Chicago area therefore required special consideration despite the agreement among the parties. Thus, the determination of an Hispanic super-majority district is also properly viewed as a significant issue in litigation.
The Collins plaintiffs assert prevailing party status in part because the configuration of the First and Seventh Congressional Districts contained in the Hastert plan adopted by the court closely approximated the configuration of those same districts advanced by the Collins plaintiffs. This assertion entirely disregards the fact that the Collins plaintiffs ultimately adopted the losing plan advanced by the Rosebrook plaintiffs. Moreover, the Collins plaintiffs devoted their efforts at trial exclusively to the issue of the placement of the small geographical area comprising Chicago's Second Ward. Not only were the Collins plaintiffs' arguments on this issue ultimately rejected, but they also were found to be tangential ...
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