Oklahoma will have to pay $303,333 in legal fees to plaintiffs’ attorneys who brought lawsuit against Sharia law ballot measure.
The bill has come due for the state’s effort to keep international law and Sharia law out of Oklahoma courts.
It wasn’t cheap.
Oklahoma must pay $303,333 for attorneys’ fees of the plaintiffs who challenged a measure approved overwhelmingly by voters on Nov. 2, 2010, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled May 14.
The Oklahoma Legislature put the measure on the ballot.
Miles-LaGrange found it an unconstitutional infringement on individual rights.
Plaintiff Muneer Awad, an Oklahoma City Muslim man, said in the lawsuit that the measure would stigmatize him and others of his faith, limit the results they can receive in court and prevent his will from being probated in Oklahoma because his will references Sharia law, the Islamic law system.
On May 14, Miles-LaGrange approved a plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees, costs and nontaxable expenses.
Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, which represented the state in the case, said her office does not compile a total of expenses it incurs in such legal defenses.
Micheal Salem, of Norman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said there has never been any indication that Sharia law was being applied in Oklahoma courts in the first place.
“It created a solution where there was no problem that existed,” Salem said. He also said there are adequate constitutional protections that would prohibit court decisions grounded in religious theory.
He said the state has indicated it will pay the judgment over three years.
“This was just politicians optimistically looking for an issue,” he said. “Look what happened. Not only did the state question get struck down, but they’ll have to pay attorney fees and interest over three years.”
Rep. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said the state has no choice but to pay the legal fees.
“That is an obligation of the state,” he said.
Does the court decision show lawmakers never should have passed a resolution against Sharia law?
“I think that’s a disagreement with us and the courts,” Jolley said. “We passed that as a Legislature. We lost the lawsuit.”