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Defending Unconstitutional D.C. Gun Ban Will Cost $1.1M

WASHINGTON (CN) - A man who successfully challenged the D.C. ban on handguns all the way through the U.S. Supreme Court can collect more than $1.1 million in attorneys' fees and expenses, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan carefully calculated the figure using the lodestar method, which is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.

Dick Heller, a D.C. special police officer, had been initially represented in the case by Stephen Halbrook and Richard Gardiner, both of Fairfax, Va. Several more attorneys worked for Heller, including Alan Gura who worked 1,577 hours on the case and Clark Neily who worked 700 hours.

Heller wanted $3.1 million in fees and costs, while D.C. wanted to pay $840,000, "arguing that plaintiff's counsel should not be permitted to 'enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers,' particularly during this time of 'financial crisis.'"

Sullivan's final figures were $1,132,182 in attorneys' fees and $4,890.27 in expenses.

The Supreme Court struck down a districtwide handgun ban with District of Columbia v. Heller in July 2008, finding the law infringed on the Second Amendment. Legislators quickly passed emergency gun regulations in compliance with the landmark ruling, banning assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices.

A federal judge upheld the new regulations in March 2010, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed in October 2011.

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