Politico today reports on a little noticed element of the House Budget. According to the article, the proposed continuing resolution budget, (at section 4007) would cut off, for the remainder of the fiscal year, payments under the Equal Access to Justice Act, (5 U.S.C. § 504; 28 U.S.C. § 2412). According to the article, this act, which repays prevailing parties against the government in certain situations, is better known for paying for environmental litigation, but also pays for prevailing social security and veterans lawyers in Federal Court in such situations.
“Conservatives from Reagan’s own West were the driving force, accusing environmentalists of turning EAJA into a taxpayer-financed, money-machine for lawsuits harassing ranchers. But thousands of veterans and elderly found themselves swept under in the process, losing their ability to retain counsel in disputes with government agencies.”
With respect to the impact on veterans, Politico notes:
“The story of EAJA’s impact is told by data compiled in the annual reports posted by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
For a veteran to have any solid chance of success, retaining counsel becomes more important as each case proceeds. And among those appeals which reach a decision on the merits, a very high percentage correspond with EAJA applications and fees paid for attorneys.
For example, about a quarter of all the cases in 2009 were dismissed on procedural grounds, but of the remaining 3270, EAJA-backed attorneys were decisive. As many as 2385 applications for fees were granted: that’s about 73 percent of all the cases decided, and since awards are made truly only in those cases where the citizen wins, EAJA attorneys are a still higher percentage measured against that standard.”
Note: this information, as with other posts on this blog, is provided as news, and not for the purpose of making legal decisions, which should be based on independent research.