February 27, 2012
Courts Can't Impose Pro Bono Penalty
The Maryland Court of Appelas reversed the Court of Special Appeals and held that 'the consideration that one party was represented on a pro bono basis, in an award of attorneys' fees to the other party who had retained counsel was erroneous under [the statute governing awards of costs and fees in family law matters]" and remanded for reconsideration of the statutory factors.
The case involved a custody modification proceeding. The petitioner was represented pro bono by the Sexual Assault Legal Institute. Her ex-husband retained counsel and accumulated over $70,000 in legal fees.
The trial court ordered the petitioner to pay her ex-huband over $30,000 in legal fees and costs because "she was in a better financial position than [the ex-husband], due to her having received pro bono representation..." (Mike Frisch)
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