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Judge Awards Plaintiffs $672,000

Judge Awards Plaintiffs $672,000
In Legal Fees in Michigan Admissions Case

A federal judge recently ordered the University of Michigan to pay $672,000 in legal fees and costs to attorneys for students who sued the school over its use of affirmative action in undergraduate admissions policies.

The university had maintained it wasn’t responsible for the legal bills. U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan disagreed, but ruled that the $2.1 million originally sought by the attorneys was excessive.

In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a general affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan law school but struck down the university’s undergraduate formula as too rigid because it awarded admission points based on race (see Black Issues, July 17, 2003).

In response, the university adopted a new application that still considers race, but does not award points, and includes new short-answer questions and an optional essay.

“We’re pleased that the judge agreed we prevailed in this case,” said Terence Pell, president of the Center For Individual Rights, which represented the students.

 University officials expressed satisfaction with the reduced amount.

Still to be decided is whether the two students who sued the university over its undergraduate policies will receive any money.

Pell said his group also is hoping to secure damage awards “for the many people denied admission over the nine years covered by the lawsuit.”

Marvin Krislov, the university’s vice president and general counsel, said such damages are unwarranted.

— Associated Press

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