Federal judge awards attorney fees in juvenile beating lawsuit

Federal Judge Kristine Baker has awarded a Fayetteville attorney a significantly lower amount in attorney’s fees than he had requested for representing a Pine Bluff boy in a civil right lawsuit alleging that the boy was beaten while being held at the Jefferson County juvenile detention center in 2011.

J. Jason Boyeskie had asked for $33,319.54 plus $2,202.84 in costs for his work representing Chaderious Avery and Avery’s mother, Karen Walls, during a trial in federal court last year. Baker awarded Boyeskie $8,866.67 plus the $2,202.84 in costs for a total of $11,069.51.

Avery and Walls sued Roderick Shelby, chief of staff for Juvenile Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr., and Sheriff Gerald Robinson.

The claim against Robinson was settled at the beginning of the trial. According to the federal court filing, Walls and Avery received $15,000.

After trial, the jury awarded Walls and Avery $6,000 on their claim of excessive force against Shelby. On the other two claims of assault and battery, Walls and Avery received $1 each. No punitive damages were awarded on any of the claims.

In her ruling regarding attorney’s fees, Baker said Boyeskie said he charged $225 per hour for his work on the case, but also said he customarily charges between $175 and $225 per hour, and the court applied the $175 per hour rate in this case.

Baker said the court also considered Boyeskie’s success in the case, noting that Walls and Avery had asked for between $200,000 and $400,000 and received only a fraction of that. Additionally, on two of the three claims, the jury awarded only nominal damages of $1.

“Although the jury returned verdicts in favor of Ms. Walls on each claim submitted, the court finds that the degree of success was limited,” the ruling said, noting in a footnote that “this is in no way intended as any criticism of the amount or quality of the efforts of Mr. Boyeskie.”

Baker awarded Boyeskie $175 per hour for the 152 hours he said he worked on the case, then reduced the total figure by one-third to account for “Walls’ limited success on her claims.”