A federal judge has ordered Houston ISD to pay nearly $300,000 in legal fees for violating the First Amendment rights of a community activist who was banned from district premises.
Gerry Monroe, who recently ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the district’s board, sued the district in 2019 after administrators banned him for purportedly violating policies about proper decorum in district buildings and threatening employees’ safety. The ban expired at the end of 2019, court records show, and Monroe has attended board meetings this school year.
U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. ruled Nov. 3 Monroe should be awarded $299,200 for compensation of his attorneys. The court found a fee of $500 per hour was “well within the range of attorneys’ fees customarily charged in this community in this kind of litigation by lawyers of comparable experience and skill” as Monroe’s lead lawyer, Scott Newar, who logged 525.75 hours on the case, Werlein wrote.