U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land denied today the motion by Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt that asked for attorney fees and expenses.
Shelnutt, acquitted in November of charges including money laundering, aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, attempted bribery and making false statements, argued in his December motion that prosecutors waged a “baseless, vexatious, frivolous, bad faith, harassing and stubborn” case against him. He stated in an exhibit to his motion that he paid or must pay several attorneys more than $190,000 and that he incurred some $35,000 in expenses while defending himself.
In the motion, Shelnutt cites the “Hyde Amendment,” enacted in 1997, which enables a judge to award reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses to a defendant, “where the court finds that the position of the United States was vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith,” the motion states.
“Although the court has concerns about the prosecutorial discretion exercised by the Department of Justice in its handling of this case, the Hyde Amendment does not authorize an award of attorney’s fees for an abuse of such discretion, unless the government’s position in the case was vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith,” Land states. “The present record does not support such a finding, and therefore, defendant’s motion is denied.”
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