By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — State taxpayers paid about $4.2 million for legal costs associated with what is known as Senate Bill 3, a bill the courts declared unconstitutional.
The bill added requirements for those registering to vote within 30 days of an election and for people without a photo ID.
In July 2021, the state Supreme Court upheld a Superior Court decision that the law is unconstitutional because it places burdens on voters in violation of their right to vote under the constitution.
Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, asked Attorney General John Formella what the cost to the state and its taxpayers was for the state to defend two consolidated lawsuits that challenged the 2017 law.
The suits were brought by the state Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire.
“The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to confirm their entitlement to reasonable attorney’s fees with the Superior Court pursuant to the judicially-created substantial benefit doctrine,” Formella wrote to Rosenwald. The doctrine was established in in the Claremont education suit ruling.
The bill submitted by counsel for the League of Women’s Voters of New Hampshire by Perkins Coie LLP, of Washington D.C. was $7.15 million, but was negotiated to $3 million by his office, Formella writes.
Shaheen & Gordon’s bill for representing the Democratic Party was $383,815 and negotiated to $350,000, the attorney general wrote.
The Attorney General’s Office retained Cleveland, Waters & Bass to help with the suits at a cost of $827,166, he notes.
“The State therefore paid a total of $3.35 million to settle the plaintiffs’ attorney fees claims in these consolidated cases,” Formella wrote to Rosenwald.
The total outside legal cost is $4.2 million and does not include 4,176 billable hours from the Attorney General’s Office.
Garry Rayno may be reached at email@example.com.