A Washington, D.C., judge has ordered former Gov. Bruce G. Sundlun to pay $19,608 for an ex-wife's legal fees. Sundlun, governor from 1991-95, was found in contempt of court Oct. 18 and given one day to pay $33,114 to Joyanne T. Sundlun, of Washington, for health insurance, medical co-payments and other expenses. Sundlun, 84, of Saunderstown, met the deadline to make that payment, but a bitter battle continued over the legal fees sought by her lawyer, Randell C. Ogg.
Sundlun's lawyers called Ogg's request "grossly excessive" for a "largely uncontested collections matter," saying, "The fact that Nordstrom now sells bottled tap water does not make the water itself more valuable. In attempting to charge $325 an hour for his services in this case, Mr. Ogg is trying to sell bottled tap water at a Nordstrom price." Ogg defended the request and accused Sundlun of drawing out the legal battle to "wear down" his ex-wife with expense and aggravation. "Sundlun thought he could do this with impunity because he was getting free legal services from his former law firm [Sundlun, Scher & Singer] but knew his ex-wife would have to pay her lawyers to overcome whatever position he might throw out."
Judge J. Michael Ryan found that, "The request for fees and costs submitted is reasonable, both in the time expended and the rate charged." So, in his Nov. 24 order, the judge ordered Sundlun to pay the full amount sought within 60 days. In his order, Ryan also noted that Sundlun had failed to appear for any of the hearings in the Domestic Relations Branch of District of Columbia Family Court. And the judge ordered that Sundlun "shall personally appear for any and all subsequent hearings scheduled in this case unless explicitly excused by the court in advance of said hearing."