The city law department yesterday submitted a bill for $8,334.25 to account for the time four of its lawyers spent dealing with what a judge has ruled was a "bad faith" attempt by the Satanic Temple of Salem to force then Councilor Wu to spend Election Day in Salem answering questions about how the city council selects religious leaders to give invocations at the start of council meetings.
US District Court Judge Angel Kelley asked for the bill last week in a ruling in which she determined that the organization's efforts to make Wu travel up to Witch City on that particular day for a pre-trial deposition were part of "impermissible antics and abusive tactics" in its First Amendment suit against the city council over the invocations. The group filed its suit after no councilors would agree to sponsor it for an invocation.
In a filing, Corporation Counsel Adam Cederbaum wrote that four of his attorneys had spent a total of 31.45 hours dealing with the deposition demand, at $265 an hour. Although corporation-counsel attorneys are paid a yearly salary, rather than billing by the hour, Cederbaum wrote that the hourly rate he submitted "is consistent with the standard hourly rate that Defendant uses when retaining the services of outside counsel." And even then, he claimed, the rate " is well below the reasonable market rate for attorneys with similar experience."