A federal judge has denied attorney fees to media lawyers who successfully sued for the release of rec-ords in the out-of-court settlement between Daggett County and former County Assessor Marie Beckstead.
"This court considers that special circumstances exist in this case which render the award of attorney fees to plaintiff unjust," Judge Thomas Greene said."Accordingly, the court awards no attorney fees in this case," said Greene, who said only costs in the case would be awarded.
Miles Holman, attorney for the Society of Professional Journalists, had asked the judge in March to award nearly $20,000 in legal fees spent by reporters in trying to open the records.
But lawyers for Daggett County contended the case should be exempt from award of legal fees, arguing it dealt primarily with state open-rec-ord laws.
Greene last December ruled details of the $25,000 settlement for Beckstead's legal fees in her $1 million suit against the county and officials for forcing her from office were a matter of public record.
The former county assessor agreed to drop her suit, and the county dismissed criminal charges of theft of public funds. Beckstead, suspended from office following a secret meeting the day before her 1986 re-election, also agreed to step down from office with full state retirement benefits.
Gene Briggs - the county's auditor, treasurer, recorder, clerk and clerk of the court, and a defendant in the civil suit - said the county spent another $30,000 in the aborted criminal prosecution of Beckstead and related audits.