Easter a Traditional Time

On Easter a lot of colored Easter eggs will show up in homes all across the country.  And a lot of sugar and chocolate Easter candy will show up as well.

Who delivers all of those eggs, and all of that Easter candy?  Opinions vary.  My youngest daughter did volunteer work in Sweden.  She emailed me a photograph of the business district of the city where she’s serving.  The photo showed a number of young, small city trees with hundreds of black, yellow and red feathers tied to the branches.  Why the feathers?  As reported by my daughter, the Swedish Easter tradition involves “Easter Chicks” instead of “Easter bunnies” because bunnies don’t lay eggs. (Apparently the Swedish Easter Chicks do lay such eggs).

So the Easter Bunny has been has been around for a long time.  If Wikipedia is correct, then the tradition of having an abundance of eggs on Easter may be traced to an old custom during Lent of forbearing from eating eggs – with the result that perhaps many eggs might be consumed on Easter.

The Easter Bunny is clearly a well-known part of American culture – so well known, in fact, that the Easter Bunny shows up in the occasional legal opinion.

In 2007, a father and a son sought to obtain special permits under Iowa law that would allow them to carry a concealed weapon.  They met all of the legal requirements for getting such a permit, but a local Sheriff denied them the permits anyway.  According to the court opinion, the Sheriff did so because of the father’s political writings and affiliations.  It appears that the Sheriff did not agree with these writings and affiliations, or that the Sheriff may have had other concerns about them.

The father and the son filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court, alleging that the Sheriff had infringed on their right to bear arms under the Constitution.  The father and the son also argued that their civil rights had been violated under a civil rights law known as section 1983.

During the course of the lawsuit, the Sheriff’s deposition was taken (a deposition is an out-of-court proceeding where a witness or a party is asked questions and must give answers under oath).  In the deposition, the Sheriff conceded that he had acted improperly in denying the father and the son’s applications for the weapons permit – in essence, the Sheriff admitted that he had violated the constitutional rights of the father and the son.

The lawsuit proceeded to trial, and the father won.  The civil rights law that had been violated provided for an award of attorneys fees.  The father asked that his attorneys fees be awarded.  The Court found that because he had won, the father was entitled to an award of attorneys fees.  However, the Court felt that the amount of fees requested was excessive (the father requested over $118,000 of fees).  The Court stated, in its written opinion, that after the Sheriff admitted his constitutional violations at deposition, that it would be about as likely for the father to lose his case as it would be for the Easter Bunny to throw the winning touchdown pass at the next Super Bowl game, off a triple reverse on the last play of the game. The Court felt that because it was so highly likely that the father would win, the amount of fees incurred by the father’s lawyers were unnecessary and excessive.

The case is reported as Dorr v. Weber (2010) 741 F. Supp. 2d 1022.

(Incidentally – the father did receive an award of his attorneys fees, but the judge discounted the fees from $118,415.75 to $54,174.86 – for an award of approximately one-half of the fees incurred).

Attorneys fee awards, civil rights claims, and weapon issues can all involve complex issues of law.  Persons with issues, matters, or questions on such matters and on all legal matters should seek competent legal counsel.

Copyright 2017 ROBERT B. JACOBS