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Favors v. Cuomo

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 14, 2014

MARK A. FAVORS, HOWARD LEIB, LILLIE H. GALAN, EDWARD A. MULRAINE, WARREN SCHREIBER, and WEYMAN A. CAREY, Plaintiffs, DONNA KAYE DRAYTON, EDWIN ELLIS, AIDA FORREST, GENE A. JOHNSON, JOY WOOLLEY, SHEILA WRIGHT, MELVIN BOONE, GRISSELLE GONZALEZ, DENNIS O. JONES, REGIS THOMPSON LAWRENCE, AUBREY PHILLIPS, LINDA LEE, SHING CHOR CHUNG, JULIA YANG, JUNG HO HONG, JUAN RAMOS, NICK CHAVARRIA, GRACIELA HEYMANN, SANDRA MARTINEZ, EDWIN ROLDAN, MANOLIN TIRADO, LINDA ROSE, EVERET MILLS, ANTHONY HOFFMAN, KIM THOMPSON-WEREKOH, CARLOTTA BISHOP, CAROL RINZLER, GEORGE STAMATIADES, JOSEPHINE RODRIGUEZ, SCOTT AUSTER, and YITZCHOK ULLMAN, Intervenor Plaintiffs,
v.
ANDREW M. CUOMO, as Governor of the State of New York, ROBERT J. DUFFY, as President of the Senate of the State of New York, DEAN G. SKELOS, as Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the State of New York, SHELDON SILVER, as Speaker of the Assembly of the State of New York, JOHN L. SAMPSON, as Minority Leader of the Senate of the State of New York, BRIAN M. KOLB, as Minority Leader of the Assembly of the State of New York, the NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH AND APPORTIONMENT (" LATFOR" ), JOHN J. McENENY, as Member of LATFOR, ROBERT OAKS, as Member of LATFOR, ROMAN HEDGES, as Member of LATFOR, MICHAEL F. NOZZOLIO, as Member of LATFOR, MARTIN MALAVÉ DILAN, as Member of LATFOR, and WELQUIS R. LOPEZ, as Member of LATFOR, Defendants

Order Filed: May 20, 2014

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Professor Nathaniel Persily, Expert, Pro se, New York, NY.

For Donna Kaye Drayton, Intervenor Plaintiff: Esmeralda Simmons, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joan P. Gibbs, Center for Law and Social Justice, Brooklyn, N.Y. USA; Frederick K. Brewington, Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, Hempstead, N.Y. USA; Jeffrey M Norton, Randolph M. McLaughlin, Newman Ferrara LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Linda Lee, Intervenor Plaintiff: Glenn Duque Magpantay, Kenneth Kimerling, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Asian American Legal Defense Fund, New York, N.Y. USA; James Herschlein, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kaye Scholer LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Noah Barnett Peters, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kaye Scholer, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Shing Chor Chung, Julia Yang, Jung HO Hong, Intervenor Plaintiffs: Glenn Duque Magpantay, Kenneth Kimerling, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Asian American Legal Defense Fund, New York, N.Y. USA; Grace Yang, James Herschlein, Noah Barnett Peters, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Kaye Scholer LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Juan Ramos, Nick Chavarria, Graciela Heymann, Sandra Martinez, Edwin Roldan, Manolin Tirado, Intervenor Plaintiffs: Jackson Chin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jose Luis Perez, Latino Justice PRLDEF, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Edwin Ellis, Aida Forrest, Gene A. Johnson, Joy Woolley, Sheila Wright, Intervenor Plaintiffs: Esmeralda Simmons, Joan P. Gibbs, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Center for Law and Social Justice, Brooklyn, N.Y. USA; Jeffrey M Norton, Randolph M. McLaughlin, Newman Ferrara LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Edwin Figuero, Santiago Diaz, Intervenor Plaintiffs: Jackson Chin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Latino Justice PRLDEF, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Andrew M. Cuomo, as Governor of the State of New York, Robert J. Duffy, as President of the Senate of the State of New York, Defendants: Joshua Benjamin Pepper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Dean G. Skelos, as Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the State of New York, Defendant: David L. Lewis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lewis & Fiore, New York, N.Y. USA; Michael A. Carvin, LEAD ATTORNEY, John M. Gore, PRO HAC VICE, Jones Day, Washington, DC USA; Louis K. Fisher, JONES DAY, Washington, DC USA; Todd R. Geremia, Jones Day, New York, N.Y. USA.

For John L. Sampson, as Minority Leader of the Senate of the State of New York, Defendant: Jeffrey M. Wice, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Washington, DC USA; Alexander G.P. Goldenberg, Eric Jason Hecker, John R Cuti, Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, New York, NY; Leonard M. Kohen, Leonard Kohen, New York, N.Y. USA.

For John J. Mceneny, as Member of LATFOR, Roman Hedges, as Member of LATFOR, Defendants: C. Daniel Chill, Elaine M. Reich, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Graubard Miller, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Robert Oaks, as Member of LATFOR, Defendant: Jonathan Halsby Sinnreich, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sinnreich Kosakoff & Messina LLP, Central Islip, N.Y. USA; Jennifer K. Harvey, Kevin M. Lang, Couch White LLP, Albany, N.Y. USA; Timothy F. Hill, Sinnreich & Kosakoff LLP, Central Islip, N.Y. USA; Vincent J. Messina, Jr., Sinnreich, Koskoff & Messina, Central Islip, N.Y. USA.

For Michael F. Nozzolio, as Member of LATFOR, Welquis R. Lopez, as Member of LATFOR, Defendants: Michael A. Carvin, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Jones Day, Washington, DC USA; David L. Lewis, Lewis & Fiore, New York, N.Y. USA; John M. Gore, PRO HAC VICE, Jones Day, Washington, DC USA; Louis K. Fisher, Todd R. Geremia, JONES DAY, Washington, DC USA.

For Martin Malave Dilan, as Member of LATFOR, Defendant: Jeffrey M. Wice, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Washington, DC USA; Alexander G.P. Goldenberg, Eric Jason Hecker, John R Cuti, Julie Ehrlich, Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Leonard M. Kohen, Leonard Kohen, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Defendant: Eric Jason Hecker, Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Martin Malave Dilan, as Member of LATFOR, John L. Sampson, as Minority Leader of the Senate of the State of New York, Cross Claimants: Jeffrey M. Wice, LEAD ATTORNEY, Washington, DC USA; Alexander G.P. Goldenberg, Eric Jason Hecker, Julie Ehrlich, Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; John R Cuti, Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, New York, Ny; Leonard M. Kohen, Leonard Kohen, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Andrew M. Cuomo, as Governor of the State of New York, Robert J. Duffy, as President of the Senate of the State of New York, Cross Defendants: Joshua Benjamin Pepper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Dean G. Skelos, as Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore of the Senate of the State of New York, Cross Defendant: David L. Lewis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lewis & Fiore, New York, N.Y. USA; Michael A. Carvin, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Jones Day, Washington, DC USA; John M. Gore, PRO HAC VICE, Jones Day, Washington, DC USA; Todd R. Geremia, Jones Day, New York, N.Y. USA.

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SUMMARY ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

DORA L. IRIZARRY, United States District Judge.

This Order is written for the benefit of the parties regarding the issue of the award of attorneys' fees and costs.[1] Familiarity with the underlying facts and the history of this redistricting litigation is presumed.[2]

On November 5, 2013, the Court entered judgment in favor of various plaintiff-intervenors on their claims related to the congressional redistricting following the 2010 census. ( See Judgment Order, Dkt. Entry No. 639.) Subsequently, the Rose, Drayton, Lee, and Ramos Intervenors filed applications for attorneys' fees, contending that, as prevailing parties, they were entitled to such fees. ( See Rose Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees, Dkt. Entry No. 647; Drayton Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees, Dkt. Entry Nos. 650, 658; Ramos Intervenors' Notice of Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs, Dkt. Entry No. 657; Lee Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees, Dkt. Entry No. 659.) The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York (collectively, the " State" ) filed the sole opposition to the fee applications. ( See State's Opposition, Dkt. Entry No. 666.)

The Court referred the fee applications to United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann, who issued a report and recommendation (the " R & R" ) on May 20, 2014. ( See R & R, Dkt. Entry No. 672.) The magistrate judge recommended that: (1) the Rose Intervenors' motion be denied in its entirety; (2) the Lee Intervenors be awarded $61,444 in attorneys' fees; (3) the Drayton Intervenors be awarded $88,502.75 in attorneys' fees, $15,780 in expert fees, and $0.75 in litigation expenses; and (4) the Ramos Intervenors be awarded $97,196.25 in attorneys' fees. ( Id. at 1.) The State filed the sole objection to the R & R ( see State's Objections to R & R, Dkt. Entry No. 682), which was timely. The Drayton Intervenors filed the sole reply. ( See Drayton Intervenors' Repl. Mem. of Law, Dkt. Entry No. 683.) For the reasons set forth below, the R & R is adopted in its entirety.

DISCUSSION

When a party objects to a R & R, a district judge must make a de novo determination with respect to those portions of the R & R to which the party objects. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). If, however, a party makes conclusory or general objections, or attempts to relitigate the party's original arguments, the court will review the R & R for clear error. Robinson v. Superintendent, Green Haven Correctional Facility, 2012 WL 123263, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 17, 2012) (quoting Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F.Supp.2d 290, 292 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)). The district court may then " accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate

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judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

The State contends that the magistrate judge erred in recommending that the Court find that the plaintiff-intervenors achieved prevailing party status. ( See State's Objections at 4-10.) The State's objections constitute nothing more than relitigation of its position in its opposition to the fee applications. ( Compare State's Objections at 4-10, with State's Opposition at 4-7.) Notably, the magistrate judge anticipated the State's objections, and squarely and correctly addressed each of them in the R & R. ( See R & R at 6-12.)

Nonetheless, the Court has carefully considered the State's objections to the R & R, which are meritless. First, the magistrate judge articulated and applied the correct legal standard for determining whether the plaintiff-intervenors achieved prevailing party status. In this action, the plaintiff-intervenors sought attorneys' fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and 1973l(e), which state that " the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee" and costs.[3]

The Supreme Court has explained that, it is unnecessary for a party to prevail on every issue in a litigation to achieve prevailing party status. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983) (explaining that " plaintiffs may be considered 'prevailing parties' for attorney's fees purposes if they succeed on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing suit" ). If prevailing party status is achieved, the Court must then evaluate the " reasonableness" of the application. Id. The Court further clarified that, " at a minimum, to be considered a prevailing party within the meaning of § 1988, the plaintiff must be able to point to a resolution of the dispute which changes the legal relationship between itself and the defendant." Texas State Teachers Assoc. v. Garland Indep. Sch. Dist., 489 U.S. 782, 792, 109 S.Ct. 1486, 103 L.Ed.2d 866 (1989). Some " purely technical or de minimis" victories may fail to support prevailing party status; however, a party crosses the threshold to prevailing party status when the party " succeed[s] on any significant issue in litigation which achieved[d] some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing the suit." Id. at 791-92 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Nadeau v. Helgemoe, 581 F.2d 275, 278-79 (1st Cir. 1978)). Thus, " [t]he touchstone of the prevailing party inquiry must be the material alteration of the legal relationship of the parties in a manner which Congress sought to promote in the fee statute." Id. at 792-93. " Where such a change has occurred, the degree of the plaintiff's overall success goes to the reasonableness of the award under Hensley, not to the availability of a fee award vel non." Id. at 793.

In this action, the magistrate judge properly evaluated the fee and cost applications under the well settled Garland framework. ( See R & R at 6-12.) The magistrate judge properly declined the State's request to apply the slightly different analysis set forth in Hastert v. Illinois State. Bd. of Election Comm'rs, 28 F.3d 1430 (7th Cir. 1993), a redistricting case. In that case, the Seventh Circuit announced a special standard for fee applications

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" in the redistricting context," noting that, in such cases, " the touchstone for whether a party 'prevails' is simply whether that party's map (or the map the party ultimately embraces) is ultimately adopted." Id. at 1443 (affirming denial of attorneys' fees for plaintiff-intervenors who submitted a proposed redistricting map that was rejected by the court, even though the plaintiff-intervenors' contributions to the litigation arguably were a " substantial factor in eradicating conduct that violates the Voting Rights Act" ). Notably, Hastert is neither binding on this Court, nor does the Court find the analysis persuasive. The Hastert approach to evaluating requests for fees by parties to a redistricting litigation is unduly restrictive and inconsistent with the well recognized " broad remedial purpose of § 1988." Wilder v. Bernstein, 965 F.2d 1196, 1203 (2d Cir. 1992) (analyzing the legislative history and purpose of enacting § 1988); see also Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433 (noting that courts should use " a generous formulation" to determine whether a party qualifies as a prevailing party under § 1988). Moreover, there is no authority from the Supreme Court or from this Circuit indicating that courts should analyze redistricting cases differently from other types of cases entitled to fee shifting under § 1988. As one court has recognized, the analysis of prevailing party status in Hastert is " contrary to the overwhelming majority of reported decisions that have addressed prevailing party status." Perrin v. Kitzhaber, 191 Or.App. 439, 83 P.3d 368, 375-76 (Or. Ct. App. 2004) (reversing denial of a fee application and finding that the plaintiff-intervenors in a redistricting litigation achieved prevailing party status even though their proposed plan was rejected because their submissions were " helpful" to the court in creating a new plan). Thus, the magistrate judge correctly rejected the State's request to analyze the fee applications under Hastert.

Second, although the State did not object to the magistrate judge's calculation of the fees and costs for each of the plaintiff-intervenors, it bears noting that the magistrate judge applied the appropriate legal standards and reached the correct resolution with respect to each party's application. The magistrate judge was in the best position to determine the merits of the applications as she served as the Special Master in this action, reviewing the parties' submissions with respect to the congressional redistricting and crafting the new congressional map, which was adopted by the three-judge panel. She was keenly aware of each of the plaintiff-intervenors' contributions to the final map adopted by the Court, their overall success in achieving their goals in this litigation, and whether their efforts were merely duplicative of the original plaintiffs' efforts. She skillfully adjusted their requested compensation to reflect their contribution to the litigation. Accordingly, upon review of the characteristically thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned R & R, the Court hereby adopts the R & R in its entirety.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons set forth above, the R & R is adopted in its entirety. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that: (1) the Rose Intervenors' motion is denied in its entirety; (2) the Lee Intervenors are awarded $61,444 in attorneys' fees; (3) the Drayton Intervenors are awarded $88,502.75 in attorneys' fees, $15,780 in expert fees, and $0.75 in litigation expenses; and (4) the Ramos Intervenors are awarded $97,196.25 in attorneys' fees.

SO ORDERED.

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REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

ROANNE L. MANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

More than two years ago, the Three-Judge Panel (the " Panel" ) assigned to this case, assisted by the undersigned magistrate judge, undertook the " unwelcome obligation" of redrawing the State of New York's electoral districts for the United States Congress. Perry v. Perez, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 934, 940, 181 L.Ed.2d 900 (2012) (quoting Connor v. Finch, 431 U.S. 407, 415, 97 S.Ct. 1828, 52 L.Ed.2d 465 (1977)). Although the parties to the instant lawsuit continue to litigate the redistricting of the maps for the New York State legislature, the Panel has entered judgment on claims related to the congressional districts. Now, four groups of plaintiff-intervenors, referred to herein as the Rose, Lee, Drayton, and Ramos Intervenors, move for awards of attorney's fees and costs. These motions are before this Court on a referral from the Panel. For the reasons set forth below, this Court respectfully recommends (1) that the Rose Intervenors' motion be denied in its entirety; (2) that the Lee Intervenors be awarded $61,444 in attorney's fees; (3) that the Drayton Intervenors be awarded $88,502.75 in attorney's fees, $15,780 in expert fees, and $0.75 in litigation expenses; and (4) that the Ramos Intervenors be awarded $97,196.25 in attorney's fees.

BACKGROUND

This Court recounts only the background necessary to resolve the pending motions for attorney's fees and costs.[1]

This litigation arose out of the failure of New York's legislature to timely enact a new congressional redistricting plan in response to the 2010 Census. Plaintiffs Mark A. Favors, Howard Leib, Lillie H. Galan, Edward A. Mulraine, Warren Schreiber, and Weyman A. Carey (collectively, the " Primary Plaintiffs" ) commenced this action on November 17, 2011, seeking, inter alia, a judgment declaring the then-existing congressional districts invalid and appointing a Special Master to draw new congressional districts in compliance with the law. See Favors Complaint (Nov. 17, 2011) at 32-33, ECF Docket Entry (" DE" ) #1. Over the next few months, four more sets of individuals intervened in the litigation as plaintiffs: Donna Kaye Drayton, Edwin Ellis, Aida Forrest, Gene A. Johnson, Joy Woolley, and Shelia Wright (the " Drayton Intervenors" ); (2) Juan Ramos, Nick Chavarria, Graciela Heymann, Sandra Martinez, Edwin Roldan, and Manolin Tirado (the " Ramos Intervenors" ); (3) Linda Lee, Shing Chor Chung, Jung Ho Hong, and Julia Yang (the " Lee Intervenors" ); and (4) Linda Rose, Everet Mills, Anthony Hoffman, Kim Thompson-Werekoh, Carlotta Bishop, Carol Rinzler, George Stamatiades, Josephine Rodriguez, and Scott Auster (the " Rose Intervenors" ). See Order Granting Motions to Intervene (Feb. 14, 2012); Order Granting Motion to Intervene (Feb. 21, 2012).[2]

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After several months of litigation, the Panel referred the creation of a congressional redistricting plan to the undersigned magistrate judge. See Order of Referral (Feb. 28, 2012), DE #133. To provide technical assistance, the Panel appointed Dr. Nathaniel Persily, an expert in election law and redistricting. See id. ¶ 4. The Panel authorized this Court to " recommend a new plan" or to " incorporate all or parts of extant or newly proposed plans" submitted by either " the parties or interested members of the public." Id. ¶ 6.

The four intervenor groups (the " Intervenors" ) submitted their proposed redistricting plans, along with supporting arguments and data, by February 29, 2012. The Rose Intervenors submitted a statewide redistricting plan. See Rose Intervenors' Maps (Feb. 29, 2012), DE #141-1. The Ramos, Drayton, and Lee Intervenors submitted modified versions of the so-called " Unity Plan" or " Unity Map," described as " the joint effort of four voting rights advocacy organizations for the protected population groups in New York City." Drayton Intervenors' Memorandum in Support of Congressional Unity Map (Feb. 29, 2012) at 4, DE #139. Unlike the Rose Intervenors' proposed plan, these maps covered only the New York City area. See, e.g., Lee Intervenors' Proposed Congressional Plan (Feb. 29, 2012), DE #138-6. Several groups of defendants also submitted plans, but the Primary Plaintiffs did not.

In accordance with a schedule set by this Court, see Minute Entry (Feb. 27, 2012), DE #129, the parties filed responses and objections to the various plans submitted to the Court. The parties also advocated for their respective proposed plans and against competing proposals at a four-hour hearing before this Court on March 5, 2012. See Minute Entry (Mar. 5, 2012), DE #183.

That same day, the undersigned magistrate judge unveiled a draft congressional redistricting plan (the " Proposed Plan" ), and directed the parties to show cause why the Proposed Plan should not be presented to the Panel as this Court's recommendation. See Order to Show Cause (Mar. 5, 2012) (" 3/5/12 OTSC" ), DE #184. After receiving responses from the Intervenors and other parties, this Court recommended a slightly modified version of the Proposed Plan (the " Recommended Plan" ) to the Panel. See Report and Recommendation (Mar. 12, 2012) (" 3/12/12 R& R" ), DE #223; Changes Made From Proposed Plan to Recommended Plan (Mar. 12, 2012), DE #223-9. Neither the Proposed Plan nor Recommended Plan adopted district lines advocated by any of the parties.

In the week following the filing of the Recommended Plan, the parties responded to that plan through written submissions and argument at a hearing before the Panel on March 15, 2012. See Minute Entry (Mar. 15, 2012), DE #238. Four days later, the Panel issued an order adopting the Recommended Plan with a few minor modifications (the " Adopted Plan" ). See Order Adopting Report and Recommendations (Mar. 19, 2012) (" 3/19/12 Order" ), DE #242. In its 3/19/12 Order, the Panel declared New York's then-existing congressional districts unconstitutional and ordered the defendants to implement the Adopted Plan. See id. at 43-44. The following year, on November 5, 2013, the Panel entered final judgment on claims related to congressional redistricting. See Judgment Order (Nov. 5, 2013) at 2, DE #639.

Fourteen days after the Panel entered the aforesaid judgment, the Rose and

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Drayton Intervenors moved for attorney's fees and costs. See Rose Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees (Nov. 19, 2013), DE #647; Drayton Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees (Nov. 19, 2013), DE #650. That same day, the Drayton Intervenors sought an extension to file an additional fee application. See Drayton Intervenors' Letter Motion for Extension (Nov. 19, 2013), DE #645. Likewise, the Ramos and Lee Intervenors requested extensions to file their respective fee applications. See Ramos Intervenors' Letter Motion for Extension (Nov. 20, 2013), DE #653; Lee Intervenors' Letter Motion for Extension (Nov. 20, 2013), DE #654. The Panel granted these extensions, see Order Granting Motions for Extension (Dec. 3, 2013), and the Ramos and Lee Intervenors subsequently moved for fees, see Ramos Intervenors' Notice of Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs (Dec. 13, 2013), DE #657; Lee Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees (Dec. 19, 2013), DE #659. A second fee application also came forth from the Drayton Intervenors. See Drayton Intervenors' Motion for Attorney Fees and Expert Fees (Dec. 19, 2013), DE #658. The only parties to file oppositions to the Intervenors' fee applications were the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York (collectively, the " State" ), who are defendants in this action.

The Panel referred the Intervenors' various fee applications to the undersigned magistrate judge for issuance of a report and recommendation. See Order Referring Motion (Dec. 3, 2013); Order Referring Motion (Dec. 16, 2013); Order Referring Motion (Dec. 20, 2013). This Court has considered the parties' submissions and provides its recommendations herein.

DISCUSSION

In an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, " the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). Similarly, a court may award reasonable attorney's fees, expert fees, and litigation expenses " [i]n any action or proceeding to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment . . . ." Id. § 1973l(e). " Since § 1973l(e) and § 1988 contain nearly identical language and are driven by similar Congressional intent, the Courts construe these fee shifting statutes similarly." Davis v. City of New Rochelle, 156 F.R.D. 549, 553 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (footnote omitted) (citing, inter alia, Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 n.7, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983); Hastert v. Illinois State Bd. of Election Comm'rs, 28 F.3d 1430, 1439 n.10 (7th Cir. 1993)). The purpose of such fee-shifting provisions is to ensure " 'effective access to the judicial process' for persons with civil rights grievances. Accordingly, a prevailing plaintiff 'should ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust.'" Hensley, 461 U.S. at 429 (citations omitted); see Wilder v. Bernstein, 965 F.2d 1196, ...


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