SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The seven year court battle over those controversial UHP crosses is now officially over.
It ended this week with the state paying nearly $400,000 dollars to take care of someone else’s legal costs.
In the beginning, there was a lawsuit.
Brought by atheists, it claimed UHP crosses honoring fallen troopers violated the separation of church and state.
And in the seventh year, it was finally settled.
The attorney for the atheists, Brian Barnard, told ABC 4,
"From the beginning, it was apparent that these crosses were unconstitutional."
While Barnard is happy the state has now payed his legal costs, he also says the whole lawsuit - and the costly payout - could have been avoided,
"The state and the Highway Patrol Association would not engage in any kind of a discussion to solve the problem."
But ABC 4 News has also learned that the actual cost of this lawsuit is more than what is on the check.
For starters, Barnard says, the check is supposed to be for $388,050 dollars and not the $380,050 thousand it’s made out for.
And, as Barnard reminded us, that's just to pay his legal bill,
"Not only were there attorney fees incurred by the plaintiffs, there were attorneys fees incurred by
the defense attorneys, that's time spent by the attorney general's office."
In other words, there was time and effort spent by state lawyers in what turned out to be a losing battle.
Barnard wonders if taxpayer money could have been better spent elsewhere,
"All of that could have been avoided simply by moving the crosses."
ABC 4 is told the nearly $400,000 dollars from the state comes from Utah taxpayers and was not covered
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