Attorney in Shelby case wants money for fees, costs

The attorney who represented a Pine Bluff teenager and his mother in their civil rights lawsuit against Roderick Shelby has asked a federal court to award him attorney fees and costs.

J. Jason Boyeskie of Fayetteville is asking for a total of $35,522.38, which includes $33,319.54 in attorney fees and another $2,202.84 in costs, with Shelby being responsible for paying the fees and costs.

A jury ruled in December that Shelby used excessive force against Chaderious Avery, then 14, while Avery was being held at the Jefferson County juvenile detention center in 2011. Shelby is Chief of Staff for Juvenile Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr..

Avery and his mother, Karen Walls, filed suit against Shelby, Brown and later Sheriff Gerald Robinson. Brown was dropped as a defendant shortly after the suit was filed, and Robinson was dismissed as a defendant during the December trial.

Robinson, who also supervises the juvenile detention center, had been accused of failing to train and supervise Shelby and other juvenile officers. At the time of the alleged beating, Shelby was also a part-time sheriff’s deputy. He was fired from that position after an internal investigation by the sheriff’s department.

The jury awarded Avery and Walls $6,000 on the allegation of excessive force, and $1 each on the allegations of assault and battery.

In his motion, was filed Wednesday, Boyeskie said federal law allows the court to award “reasonable attorney fees as part of the costs,” and in a memorandum that was filed with the motion, Boyeskie said to determine whether the fee is reasonable, the federal courts have listed 12 factors, including the time and labor involved, the skill required to perform the legal service, the experience, reputation and ability of the attorneys, the understandability of the case, and awards in similar cases.

According to the memorandum, the case took almost 18 months from filing to the trial, and involved depositions from several individuals, a review of an internal affairs investigation, video and still photographs, Shelby’s personnel file and reports of excessive force in past years at the juvenile detention center.

Boyeskie said Walls and Avery were unable to pay him for fees incurred in the case, and “the complex nature of civil rights litigation required dedication and review of case law, even for an experienced attorney.

“Most importantly however, plaintiff’s success on all claims put against Mr. Shelby satisfies the most important factor of results,” the memorandum said. “Accordingly, the full fees as requested should be awarded.”

Boyeskie said his hourly fee is $225 an hour, and in supporting documents, indicated he has worked 152 hours, 46 minutes on the case, and said that fee is “in line with fees awarded in other cases.

“Plaintiff’s (Avery and Walls) counsel has devoted a substantial amount of time to the prosecution of this case,” Boyeskie said in the court filing. “This litigation has been on-going for almost 18 months, involving depositions of multiple individuals, review of dozens of video and hundreds of pages of documents, and involved a complex Federal issue of excessive force. This case has taken more time and energy than any other case that counsel for the Plaintiff has ever pursued. Plaintiff tried the case to a jury, which required extensive preparation and skill. Plaintiff asserted claims of battery, assault and excessive force, and all of these claims were successfully litigated.”