Governor’s Legal Fees Surpass Agreed Upon Maximum

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Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The legal fees for Gov. Mark Dayton’s side of Minnesota’s constitutional crisis are publicly mounting up, as his legal team abandoned its agreed upon cap of billable expenses.

Previously Alpha News reported that Dayton’s legal team is led by former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sam Hanson. Hanson and other attorneys at the Briggs and Morgan law firm agreed to a 25 percent reduction in their typical hourly rates, and agreed that total expenses for serving Dayton would be capped at $150,000. Hanson’s typical rate starts at $675 an hour, while other attorneys at the firm range from a $290 to $580 an hour base rate.

Now, the Pioneer Press reports Hanson and his team have billed Dayton’s office for $247,370 thus far in the process, with costs ongoing as long as the dispute continues.

Dayton and the Republican-led state legislature were ordered to engage in mediation. Both sides legal expenses will now increase as they are splitting the cost of paying the mediator.

The Pioneer Press reports that Rick Solum, formerly of the Dorsey and Whitney law firm, is working as the two sides’ mediator at a cost of $257 an hour. Negotiations took place in the Dorsey and Whitney offices in Minneapolis, lasting all day Thursday and half of Friday.

“After the parties expended significant efforts and exchanged proposals through a full day of mediation on the 21st and a half day on the 22nd, I concluded that the mediation was at an impasse, the understandable views of the parties being irreconcilable,” Solum wrote in a statement Thursday.

Meanwhile on the Republican side of the legal battle, Alpha News previously reported that the legislature is represented by the Kelly, Wolter, & Scott legal firm. The firm’s base rate of $650 per hour is slightly less than Hanson’s, and Kelly, Wolter, & Scott agreed to work for the legislature at a 50 percent discount, rather than a 25 percent one. There was no cap on expenses agreed to, but with Hanson seemingly abandoning his agreed to cap, the legislature would seem to have the cheaper end of the legal expenses.

That is yet to be determined however, as the Pioneer Press reports that financial information on the total costs incurred by the legislature in this constitutional battle have yet to be reported. Ostensibly the legislature will not be billed for its legal fees until the conclusion of the case.

Anders Koskinen