Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Journalists note: Appeal vs. legal costs

John McIntyre has an interesting post on his blog today worth saving not only by copy editors but also by all journalists -- the difference between court costs and legal costs.

The story is one of a Marine's father who sued over anti-gay protesters from Westboro Baptist Church who picketed his son's burial. The father, Albert Snyder, lost on appeal, though the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

According to the AP story in the New York Times, he was ordered to pay "legal costs" to the leader of the Westboro group. As the lawyer who wrote to McIntyre noted, however, "legal costs" and "court costs" are not interchangeable. The court costs total about $16,500 and are primarily for copying and document sharing. They are standard in appeals.

Legal costs, on the other hand, implies paying the other side's attorney's fees, a far greater proposition, as the lawyer questioning the AP article, W. Charles Bailey Jr., points out.

It's a distinction worth noting for the future.

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