Clinton attorneys say president should pay $33,737, not $500,000

May 22, 1999

LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- President Clinton's lawyers say he owes only a fraction of the $500,000 that Paula Jones' lawyers are asking for under a judge's ruling that found the president in contempt of court.

The amount Clinton owes in legal reimbursements is no more than $33,737, his lawyers argue, giving rise to a dispute that most likely will have to be decided by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright.

Wright found Clinton in contempt last month for giving intentionally false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky during his January 1998 deposition in Mrs. Jones' sexual harassment case.

The judge then ordered Clinton to pay Mrs. Jones' lawyers any "reasonable" expenses they incurred as a result of his false testimony.

Mrs. Jones' lawyers and The Rutherford Institute recently asked for almost $500,000, but Clinton's lawyers said in filings Friday that the request was "unreasonable" and "bears no relationship to the actions that gave rise" to the judge's order.

Clinton's lawyers noted that Wright asked for $1,202 for expenses she incurred in attending Clinton's deposition in Washington and said that amount "provides a useful benchmark for the reasonableness" of other expenses.

The president's lawyers said Clinton "does not concur with the findings of the court" but will not challenge the judge's April order and will pay the $1,202.

Mrs. Jones' attorneys have interpreted the judge's order far too broadly, and their request included innumerable fees and expenses "that bear no relationship to the conduct sanctioned" by the court, Clinton's lawyers said in their filing.

The Rutherford Institute's request for $58,533.03 in fees and expenses should be rejected outright because the institute was not specifically included in the judge's order, Clinton's lawyers argued. The institute is a conservative legal group that paid for some of Mrs. Jones' legal expenses.

The filing said fees and costs totaling $17,861.85 appear to be the only costs that fall under the order.

If the court were to determine that some portion of the legal fees incurred during the president's deposition should be reimbursed, then the maximum should be $3,348, or about 20 percent of the time spent by Mrs. Jones' attorneys, the filing says.

Clinton's lawyers contended that Mrs. Jones' attorneys could be entitled to another $12,527.50 if the court decided that the costs for submitting their statement of fees and expenses is included in the order.

But Mrs. Jones' lawyers, in seeking the higher amount, have argued that the president "must be sanctioned not only to redress his contemptuous misconduct but also to deter other litigants who might ... harbor the impression that a party to a federal lawsuit may willfully disregard" court orders.

They submitted itemized bills for $437,825 incurred by the Dallas law firm that represented her and an additional $53,333 incurred by the Rutherford Institute.

Any payment would be in addition to the $850,000 Clinton has already paid Mrs. Jones to settle the sexual harassment case without admitting wrongdoing. Clinton denies any wrongdoing and has said he settled the case simply to bring an end to a public crisis.

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