Cypress : Anti-Abortion Protesters Win Legal-Fee Battle
Lawyers for a group of anti-abortion protesters said they would appeal a judge’s recent order banning them from the site of a Cypress clinic, even as they won a lesser victory in court Friday over attorney’s fees.
“We felt that the judge’s decision was wrongly decided on the law and that we have a good chance of overturning it on appeal,” attorney Janet M. LaRue said.
Lawyers for the anti-abortionists met to consider the appeal question immediately after learning in Superior Court in Santa Ana that they would not have to pay about $76,000 in legal fees sought by lawyers for family planning clinic operator Edward Allred.
Judge Linda H. McLaughlin, in rejecting all but about $2,500 in court costs sought by Allred’s lawyers, said Friday that the legal issues raised by the abortion case were not broad enough to justify larger attorney’s fees.
Three months ago, the judge ordered that a group of anti-abortionists who had picketed Allred’s clinic in Cypress for the last 12 years could no longer protest in the parking lot of the site and would have to voice their feelings from outside the grounds--on the sidewalk.
Allred had complained that the pickets were harassing women in the lot as they entered the clinic, even persuading about eight women not to go ahead with abortions.
In her April ruling, the judge said that the protesters had clearly violated the patients’ right to seek out treatment at the clinic, adding that “nothing could be more personal and private” than a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
At the time, she also rejected the argument that abortion clinics are quasi-public facilities and ruled that the clinics are not subject to public access in the same way as are shopping malls and grocery stores, for instance.
LaRue said the anti-abortionists would file formal notice of their appeal of the ruling sometime before the July 15 deadline.
Since the earlier ruling, the protesters have complied with the order, continuing their regular protests from just outside the clinic grounds, according to Paul Minerich, a lawyer for Allred. “That’s all we wanted, so we’re happy with the way things turned out,” he said.
Attorneys for the anti-abortionists said this week’s ruling by the Supreme Court, restricting abortion rights and giving states more authority to decide the question, could help them in their appeal of McLaughlin’s decision. But Minerich disputed that view, saying the clinic’s legal position is secure.