Del. Jill P. Carter, D-Baltimore City, is the chief sponsor of House Bill 283, which would make government agencies liable for attorneys’ fees and legal costs, in addition to damages, if a plaintiff prevails on a state constitutional claim.
Government agencies and employees who violate an individual’s rights under the Maryland constitution would be liable for attorneys’ fees and court costs, in addition to damages, under legislation aimed at providing greater access to justice for low-income people.
The legislation, House Bill 283 and Senate Bill 319, mirrors federal civil rights laws that allow victims of U.S. constitutional violations to collect attorney’s fees and expenses in federal courts.
The legislation follows the Maryland Access to Justice Commission’s 2009 report, in which it recommended fee-shifting in state constitutional-rights cases brought in state courts as a way to encourage private attorneys to take on this often expensive and time consuming litigation on behalf of low-income Marylanders.
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