California Family Lawyer Alphonse Provinziano Wins Challenge Over Legal Fees From Heavy Metal Musician

A judge ruled against an attempt by singer-songwriter Tommy Vext to avoid payment

California appeals judge ruled in favor of longtime family law attorney Alphonse Provinziano after heavy metal singer-songwriter Tommy Vext attempted to overturn a court order that he pay his ex-girlfriend’s legal fees.

In a case closely followed in metal magazines, Provinziano represented online fitness model and coach Whitney Johns, who secured a restraining order against Vext, her former boyfriend, after she alleged domestic violence. But Vext objected to a 2021 order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that he pay her attorney fees, taking the matter to Division Four of the state Court of Appeal.

Under California law, a person who gets a domestic violence restraining order from a court is entitled to receive lawyer’s fees, except in cases where it is found to be frivolous or brought with an improper motive.

“California law is clear that judges have the ability to order reasonable lawyers’ fees, so we are glad to see that affirmed in this case,” said Provinziano. “This is an especially important ruling for small firms like ours.”

Although it’s not frequent, people who have lost court cases over domestic disputes sometimes try to get out of paying lawyers’ fees, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars, especially in cases involving high net-worth individuals or ones that went to a lengthy trial, he said. Provinziano added that for smaller firms that have already spent months on a case, that can mean going even longer before receiving payment.

In this case, the judge ordered Vext to pay legal fees of $97,500 in June of 2021, but the appeal was not resolved for more than a year and a half.

“The law allows people who receive domestic violence restraining orders to get their legal fees paid as a way of encouraging lawyers to take these kinds of cases,” added Provinziano. “Attempts to delay or stop the payment of reasonable legal fees don’t just hurt law firms, they also undermine the intention of the law, which is that anyone who needs help should be able to get it.”