United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. FRIEDRICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Taylor brings this action to recover attorneys' fees and
costs incurred in administrative proceedings against the
District of Columbia Public Schools pursuant to the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Dkt. 11.
Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson issued a Report and
Recommendation regarding Taylor's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees on June 14, 2018, Dkt. 14, and Taylor
filed timely Objections to the Report and Recommendation,
Dkt. 15. For the following reasons, the Court adopts in part
and rejects in part Magistrate Judge Robinson's Report.
seeks to recover $44, 293.20 in attorneys' fees and costs
incurred in the underlying administrative proceeding. Dkt.
11. Magistrate Judge Robinson recommended granting
Taylor's attorney's fees at the applicable
Laffey matrix billing rate,  granting Taylor's
attorney's travel fees at half of the applicable
Laffey matrix billing rate, and denying any fees for
the services of “JG.” Dkt. 14. Taylor's only
objection to the Report is that fees should have been awarded
for the services of JG, a law clerk named Joseph Golinker.
a timely objection is made to a magistrate judge's
findings and recommendations, this Court reviews the portions
of the [Report and Recommendation] to which an objection is
made de novo . . . .” Raja v. Fed. Deposit Ins.
Corp., No. 16-cv-0511, 2018 WL 818393, at *3 (D.D.C.
Feb. 12, 2018). When parties supplement the record with
additional evidence after the magistrate judge has issued her
Report and Recommendation, the district judge may refuse to
consider the additional evidence and instead “make a
determination based solely on the record developed before the
magistrate judge.” Local Civ. R. 72.3(c). However, the
district judge also “may conduct a new hearing, receive
further evidence, and recall witnesses.” Id.
provided information regarding the education and experience
of Joseph Golinker in her Objections to the Report and
Recommendation. Dkt. 15. The District argues that
“[p]arties must take before the Magistrate Judge not
only their best shot but all of their shots, ” and that
Taylor is thus not entitled to introduce new evidence
regarding the education and experience of “JG” to
recover fees for his work. Dkt. 16 at 3 (quoting Aikens
v. Shalala, 956 F.Supp. 14, 23 (D.D.C. 1997)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). That argument fails, however,
because the Court has discretion to consider supplemental
evidence when reviewing the magistrate judge's Report and
Recommendation, and doing so in this case would not prejudice
District cites Aikens to support its conclusion that
Taylor should have only “one shot.” See
Id. But Aikens is neither controlling nor
persuasive as applied to the facts here. In Aikens,
the court refused to review a new argument raised by a party
for the first time in an objection to the magistrate
judge's Report and Recommendation. 956 F.Supp. at 23-24.
But the court focused on the fact that a new
argument was raised, not on the introduction of
supplemental evidence to support arguments previously raised
before the magistrate judge. Id. In this case,
unlike in Aikens, Taylor is not raising an entirely
the District had an opportunity to present evidence in its
response to discredit “JG.” Instead of taking
that opportunity, the District merely stated that
“Plaintiff's late offering of JG's experience
and background at this point, after briefing on the
underlying issues has concluded, should be wholly disregarded
as untimely.” Dkt. 16 at 3-4. Although “[i]t
would be fundamentally unfair to Defendant for the court to
consider Plaintiff's new evidence” if the
“late submission denie[d] Defendant the opportunity to
rebut it with specific proof of its own, ” Lee v.
Dist. of Columbia, 298 F. Supp. 3d 4, 10-11
(D.D.C. 2018), no such denial occurred here. Rather, the
defendant had ample opportunity to offer its own evidence and
simply declined to do so. Because it is within the discretion
of the Court to accept and consider new evidence and the
District had an opportunity to rebut Taylor's evidence,
the Court will consider the new evidence regarding
Golinker's education and experience.
that evidence, the Court must determine whether Golinker
qualifies as a paralegal or law clerk and, if so, what award
to give for his services. The American Bar Association
defines a paralegal or legal assistant as a person
“qualified by education, training or work experience
who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office,
corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who
performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for
which a lawyer is responsible.” McAllister v. Dist.
of Columbia, 21 F.Supp.3d 94, 105 (D.D.C.), modified
on reconsideration in part, 53 F.Supp.3d 55 (D.D.C.
2014), aff'd, 794 F.3d 15 (D.C. Cir. 2015). And
the Supreme Court has determined in a separate context that
non-clerical work that could be done by attorneys but is
instead done by paralegals warrants fee recovery. See
Missouri v. Jenkins, 491 U.S. 274, 288 n.10 (1989)
(listing tasks paralegals may perform). The Laffey
matrix maintains one static rate for both paralegals and law
clerks. Dkt. 15-2.
graduated from American University Law School and is licensed
to practice in New Mexico, but he bills at the paralegal rate
because he is not licensed to practice in the District of
Columbia. Dkt. 15 at 3. Taylor's bills list work done by
Golinker that is consistent with the type of work appropriate
for a paralegal. Dkt. 11-3 (listing tasks billed to
“JG” including drafting legal memoranda, drafting
motion to dismiss, conducting legal research, and reading and
responding to emails). Further, several judges on this court
have recently awarded fees for Golinker's work in similar
IDEA cases. See Merrick v. Dist. of Columbia, 316
F.Supp.3d 498, 516 (D.D.C. 2018); Lee v. Dist. of
Columbia, 303 F.Supp.3d 57, 60 (D.D.C. 2018); Shaw
v. Dist. of Columbia, 253 F.Supp.3d 267, 268 (D.D.C.
2017). Accordingly, Taylor correctly billed Golinker's
work as a paralegal/law clerk, and the Court will award fees
for his work.
courts have reduced the fee award when no information is
given about the qualifications of the law clerk or paralegal.
See Jackson v. Dist. of Columbia,696 F.Supp.2d 97,
106 (D.D.C. 2010) (“The court notes that this Circuit
has expressly approved the practice of awarding reduced fees
in circumstances in which a claimant has offered nothing to
demonstrate the reasonableness of the fee sought for
paralegal services.”); Role Models Am., Inc. v.
Brownlee,353 F.3d 962, 970 (D.C. Cir. 2004)
(“Role Models has not even taken the basic step of
submitting an affidavit detailing the non-attorneys'
experience and education. Because Role Models has justified
neither the law clerk's nor the legal assistants'
requested rates . . . [, ] we will reduce those rates by