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Jimmy Yamada, et al v. Michael Weaver

November 30, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge



Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 54.3, Plaintiffs Jimmy Yamada ("Yamada") and Russell Stewart ("Stewart") (collectively "Plaintiffs")*fn1 object to an August 30, 2012 Finding and Recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi to Grant in Part And Deny in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs ("the Findings and Recommendation"). After careful review of the voluminous record, Magistrate Judge Puglisi recommended that the court award Plaintiffs $54,938.90 in attorneys' fees and $3,623.29 in costs. Doc. No. 177, Findings and Recommendation, at 29. The court has reviewed the Findings and Recommendation de novo, and has analyzed the Objections, Response, and Reply. Being intimately familiar with the procedural and substantive history of this case, the court ADOPTS the Findings and Recommendation, but MODIFIES it by the addition of $5,213.75 in attorneys' fees as explained to follow. The court thus awards Plaintiffs $60,152.65 in attorneys' fees and $3,623.29 in costs.


Yamada, Stewart, and A-1 filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which allows a "prevailing party" to seek a "reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). The Amended Complaint alleged nine counts, challenging the constitutionality of five sets of provisions of Hawaii's campaign finance laws. Yamada and Stewart prevailed on one of the nine counts, succeeding in an as-applied challenge to Hawaii Revised Statutes ("HRS") § 11-358, which limits the amount of campaign contributions made to non-candidate committees. They obtained a preliminary, and then permanent, injunction preventing Defendants*fn2 from enforcing HRS § 11-358 as applied to Plaintiffs' past and proposed campaign contributions to the American Family Alliance - Political Action Committee (an entity that engages in solely independent campaign expenditures). See Yamada v. Kuramoto, 744 F. Supp. 2d 1075 (D. Haw. 2010) ("Yamada I"); Yamada v. Weaver, --- F. Supp. 2d ----, 2012 WL 983559, at *33 (D. Haw. Mar. 21, 2012) ("Yamada III"). But the court ruled against Plaintiffs (including A-1) on the other eight counts, as to the other four challenged sets of statutory provisions, at both the preliminary and permanent injunction phases. See Yamada III, 2012 WL 983559, at *33 (issuing permanent injunction as to HRS § 11-358, and denying all other relief sought); see also Yamada v. Kuramoto, 2010 WL 4603936, at *20 (D. Haw. Oct. 29, 2010) (Yamada II) (denying a motion for preliminary injunction as to three of the four remaining sets of challenged provisions, i.e., besides HRS § 11-358). Yamada I, Yamada II, and Yamada III set forth the full background of the issues in this action, and the court need not repeat the details here.

The court granted the preliminary injunction as to HRS § 11-358 (then known as HRS § 11-KK) on October 7, 2010. Yamada I, 744 F. Supp. 2d at 1076.

Ultimately, Yamada I was a straightforward application of Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce v. City of Long Beach, 603 F.3d 684, 691 (9th Cir. 2010) and v. Federal Election Commission, 599 F.3d 686 (D.C. Cir. 2010). Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292, asserting that City of Long Beach was distinguishable. After full briefing before the Ninth Circuit, Defendants moved to voluntarily dismiss their appeal on June 9, 2011 (a week before scheduled oral argument) after the Ninth Circuit decided Thalheimer v. City of San Diego, 645 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2011) (published on June 9, 2011) (reaffirming or clarifying City of Long Beach). In its June 10, 2011 Order granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss their appeal, the Ninth Circuit stated that "[e]ach party shall bears its own costs of appeal," and that "this order shall constitute the mandate of the court." Doc. No. 114.

Meanwhile, the court issued an administrative stay, pending results of then-ongoing proceedings in Human Life of Washington v. Brumsickle, 624 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 2010). Doc. No. 97. After certiorari was denied in Brumsickle and after the preliminary injunction appeal was dismissed on June 10, 2011, the administrative stay was lifted on June 16, 2011. Doc. No. 115. On December 5, 2011, the parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment regarding permanent injunctive relief on all claims. Doc. Nos. 125, 126. Those Motions were heard on February 6, 2012, and the court issued Yamada III on March 21, 2012. Doc. No. 149. The court made permanent the preliminary injunction regarding the as-applied challenge to HRS § 11-358, but otherwise granted no relief to Plaintiffs (including A-1).

After final judgment entered, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs, seeking $194,371.13 as prevailing parties under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) for succeeding in their challenge to § 11-358. Doc. No. 165, Mot. at 7. Plaintiffs' counsel had reduced (from the time they spent on the case as a whole) the time sought for their partial success, and $194,371.13 was their proffered result. Defendants filed an Opposition on July 16, 2012, Doc. No. 171, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply on August 20, 2012. Doc. No. 175.

Magistrate Judge Puglisi issued the Findings and Recommendation on August 30, 2012, awarding $54,938.90 in attorneys' fees and $3,623.29 in costs. Doc. No. 177, Findings and Recommendation, at 29. Plaintiffs objected to the Findings and Recommendation on September 17, 2012. Doc. No. 178. Defendants filed their Response to the Objections on September 28, 2012, Doc. No. 179, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply on October 24, 2012. Doc. No. 185. The court decides the matter without an oral hearing under Local Rule 7.2(d).


When a party objects to a magistrate judge's findings or recommendations, the district court must review de novo those portions to which the objections are made and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) ("[T]he district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.").

Under a de novo standard, this court reviews "the matter anew, the same as if it had not been heard before, and as if no decision previously had been rendered." Freeman v. DirecTV, Inc., 457 F.3d 1001, 1004 (9th Cir. 2006); United States v. Silverman, 861 F.2d 571, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). The district court need not hold a de novo hearing; however, it is the court's obligation to arrive at its own independent conclusion about those portions of the magistrate ...

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