PARKERSBURG — The group that sued town of Parkersburg over the Metropolis Council’s recitation of the Lord’s Prayer earlier than conferences has been awarded almost $60,000 in attorneys’ charges and prices.
The order was filed Thursday by U.S. District Choose John T. Copenhaver Jr. of the Southern District of West Virginia, who in Might issued an order barring the council from providing the prayer at its conferences and indicating that by doing so, council “wrapped himself in a single religion.” The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Faith Basis filed the lawsuit in 2018 with two of its native members, Daryl Cobranchi and Eric Engle, who mentioned they felt uncomfortable and pressured to take part in prayer after they attended council conferences.
Town and the plaintiffs filed motions for attorneys’ charges earlier this 12 months. After reviewing their arguments, Copenhaver awarded the plaintiffs $58,031.40 for the work of two Basis attorneys, one outdoors and a West Virginia lawyer appearing as native counsel, in addition to a paralegal.
The courtroom additionally awarded $971.28 “indeniable prices”.
“We’re happy that the First Modification was upheld on this case, that the residents of Parkersburg who are usually not Christian or spiritual will not be handled as second-class residents, and that we had been in a position to recuperate our prices.” mentioned Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Faith Basis, in a press release from the group.
The Might choice awarded Cobranchi and Engle a greenback every in nominal damages they’d requested.
Parkersburg Finance Director Eric Jiles mentioned town’s insurance coverage provider can pay the prices. Town paid a deductible for the case, however that determine was not instantly obtainable late Thursday afternoon.
Cobranchi and Engle will obtain mentioned model “Free Thinker of the Yr” awards and Cobranchi might be introduced on the basis’s annual conference in San Antonio later this month.
The Metropolis Council modified its prayer apply after receiving a letter from the inspiration in 2015, reciting the prayer earlier than the assembly was referred to as to order and with no particular council member main it or inviting individuals within the chambers to attend . Copenhaver’s ruling mentioned that this was nonetheless completely different from different legislative prayers upheld in earlier courtroom rulings as a result of it was a particularly Christian prayer and was not led by a member of the clergy or the general public.
Within the lawsuit, the plaintiffs cited situations during which former Council President John Reed continued to movement for individuals to take a seat, which Reed mentioned weren’t meant to require public participation, and former Councilman Eric Barber can be forgotten about those that didn’t assist the prayer at a gathering.
Evan Bevins will be reached at email@example.com.