Appeal tabbed at $12K

LIHUE — To appeal a federal judge’s ruling that Kauai County Ordinance 960 related to pesticides and genetically modified crops is pre-empted by state law would cost the county no more than $12,750 — start to finish.

The law firm hired by the county to defend the controversial ordinance has offered to waive all legal fees moving forward, and only charge for direct costs.

Whether the Kauai County Council approves additional funding and votes in favor of an appeal will be decided Wednesday.

The Office of the County Attorney is requesting the council authorize the expenditure of additional funds of up to $12,750 to “cover ‘costs’ for special counsel’s continue services” in the lawsuit filed against the county by Kauai’s biotech seed industry,” states the agenda item going before the seven-member board. The council will take up the communication during a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Special counsel agreed that throughout the appeal process it will “only bill the county for costs and not charge for legal fees beyond the $210,000 previously authorized by the Council,” according to the communica-tion, received by the county clerk Sept. 11.

In other words, hiring attorney David Minkin to defend Ordinance 960 in court — from the time the complaint was filed through an appeal process — would cost up to $222,750.

“The fact that the McCorriston law firm is willing to take on this appeal essentially for free, speaks volumes about the integrity of the law firm, the strength of the ordinance and the importance of the subject matter,” Councilman Gary Hooser, who introduced Bill 2491, wrote in an email.

Minkin told the council last week that an appeal of the ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would take at least a year, and possibly longer.

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