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42 USC §1988 | PROCEEDINGS IN VINDICATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS

(a) Applicability of statutory and common law
The jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters conferred on the district courts by the provisions of titles 13, 24, and 70 of the Revised Statutes for the protection of all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and for their vindication, shall be exercised and enforced in conformity with the laws of the United States, so far as such laws are suitable to carry the same into effect; but in all cases where they are not adapted to the object, or are deficient in the provisions necessary to furnish suitable remedies and punish offenses against law, the common law, as modified and changed by the constitution and statutes of the State wherein the court having jurisdiction of such civil or criminal cause is held, so far as the same is not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States, shall be extended to and govern the said courts in the trial and disposition of the cause, and, if it is of a criminal nature, in the infliction of punishment on the party found guilty.

(b) Attorney’s fees
In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of sections 1981, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 of this title, title IX of Public Law 92–318 [20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.], the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.], the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 [42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq.], title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.], or section 12361 of title 34, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity such officer shall not be held liable for any costs, including attorney’s fees, unless such action was clearly in excess of such officer’s jurisdiction.

(c) Expert fees
In awarding an attorney’s fee under subsection (b) in any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of section 1981 or 1981a of this title, the court, in its discretion, may include expert fees as part of the attorney’s fee.

(R.S. § 722; Pub. L. 94–559, § 2, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2641; Pub. L. 96–481, title II, § 205(c), Oct. 21, 1980, 94 Stat. 2330; Pub. L. 102–166, title I, §§ 103, 113(a), Nov. 21, 1991, 105 Stat. 1074, 1079; Pub. L. 103–141, § 4(a), Nov. 16, 1993, 107 Stat. 1489; Pub. L. 103–322, title IV, § 40303, Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1942; Pub. L. 104–317, title III, § 309(b), Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3853; Pub. L. 106–274, § 4(d), Sept. 22, 2000, 114 Stat. 804.)

"Section 1988, however, applies not only to claims against state officers under § 1983, but also to suits under §§ 1981, 1982, and 1985, which do not require state action."

- Carlson v. Green, 446 US 14 (1980)
"Section 1988 does not allow attorney's fees to be recovered from a governmental entity when a plaintiff sues governmental employees only in their personal capacities and prevails; accordingly, since this case was necessarily litigated as a personal-capacity and not as an official-capacity action, it was error to award fees against the Commonwealth."

- Kentucky v. Graham, 473 US 159 (1985)
"In Texas State Teachers v. Garland Independent School District, ___ U.S. ___, 109 S.Ct. 1486, 103 L.Ed.2d 866 (1989), the Supreme Court clarified the standard for determining whether a litigant may be considered a "prevailing party" deserving of a fee award. A litigant need not prevail on the central issue in the case or obtain the primary relief sought. However, the plaintiff must, "at a minimum, to be considered a prevailing party... be able to point to a resolution of the dispute which changes the legal relationship between itself and the defendant.""
"We can thus distill from the Supreme Court's prevailing party jurisprudence that there are two requirements for a party to reach prevailing party status. First, the party must be awarded some relief on the merits of its claim by the court. Buckhannon , 532 U.S. at 603, 121 S.Ct. 1835. Second, the party must be able to point to a resolution of the dispute which materially altered the legal relationship between the parties. Garland , 489 U.S. at 792–93, 109 S.Ct. 1486."
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