Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters say a court has ordered him to pay the protesters’ appeal costs.
On Friday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Albert Snyder of York, Pa., pay costs associated with Fred Phelps’ appeal. Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which held a protest at the funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in Westminster in 2006.
Lawyers for Snyder say the Court of Appeals has ordered him to pay $16,510.80 to Phelps for costs relating to the appeal, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Court of Appeals’ decision.
The lawyers say that Snyder is also struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We are extremely disappointed,” said Sean E. Summers, an attorney for Snyder. He added that the high court will likely hear the case during its October term and make a decision in June of next year.
Spring Garden resident Albert Snyder got a bill for $16,500 on Friday — the latest result of his ongoing legal battle with the Westboro Baptist Church.
Church members are seeking to recoup costs from federal appeals court, which dismissed Snyder’s lawsuit against them. Snyder’s lawyer, Sean Summers, said the court declared last week that Snyder was responsible for the costs.
Efforts to reach an official from Westboro Baptist Church was unsuccessful Monday.
Such mandated reimbursements are common after appellate court cases, Summers said.
When the U.S. Supreme Court hears Snyder’s case in the fall, its decision will ultimately make a big difference as to whether or not Snyder can eventually recoup that money, Summers said.
Snyder sued the protesters, and a Baltimore jury awarded him $5 million in damages for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision on First Amendment grounds in September 2009.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
How you can help
A fund has been set up to help Albert Snyder pay the court costs. None of the money will go to attorneys, who are representing him pro bono. See: http://www.matthewsnyder.org/