Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Redistricting -- Just when you thought it was all settled... part two, Leach

Once upon a time there was a bunch of disgruntled Republicans who filed suit against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission claiming that said commission did so many things wrong the whole process should be started all over.

The lead plaintiff was Vince (Vendon) Leach. Mr. Leach was so distraught, he decided to run for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. He won.

I know, how quaint. Why would he think there's a problem if it worked so well for him, right? Well the spoiled brats (not just Leach) at that time enjoyed a supermajority in both chambers. The lust for power was intoxicating, apparently.

The Leach lawsuit was filed a mere 3 and a half years ago with Lisa Hauser and Mike Liburdi representing the plaintiffs. Current filings, motions and cross motions include charges that when the Joint Legislative Committee to Interfere with Independent Redistricting concluded its work (besides lathering up the Tea people) in October/November 2011, it demanded (and the GOP supermajority voted to agree) the AIRC scrap what it had done up to that point and start all over.

The Arizona Constitution, amended by popular vote when the AIRC was first authorized, says the commission has to consider what the legislature wants it to do with district lines. But the big bad people's commission only accepted the recommendations and put them into the official record and that was that. I guess the AIRC didn't consider those recommendations seriously enough for Vince Leach and his gang of misfits.

Remember Arizona Legislature v AIRC? That was kinda sorta about the same thing. The GOP legislature got its collective panties in a bunch because the voters "harmed" the legislature by taking its authority to choose its own voters away. You know, conflict of interest was something about which Arizona voters have grown weary.

And yes, the SCOTUS ruling IS relevant to the issues being currently raised in Leach. The legislature's briefs did complain that the AIRC has all of the authority and the legislature has none. SCOTUS said, "tough noogies."

But neither Lisa Hauser, who represented the first AIRC and wanted to win the contract to do so in 2011 (but failed), nor Mike Liburdi who is now chief counsel for Gov. Ducey, are any longer involved with the Leach litigation. It's no wonder, under them, the case languished for quite a long time with no action.

New counsel, with Liburdi's old law firm, Snell & Wilmer, have injected new energy into the case. Anyone want to bet that S&W didn't agree to take the case pro bono?

In fact, Leach counsel got all uppity and indignant when AIRC chair Colleen Mathis' attorney Paul Charlton dared to ask where the money for legal fees was coming from. Charlton is a former US Attorney for Arizona. As his law firm bio says he's a seasoned trial attorney, he's no slouch when it comes to asking pertinent questions. Given the years long languishing period, it would seem reasonable to ask where the new money is coming from. Remember when Cantelme got upset about me confronting him about the UNfair Trust?

Anyway, Commissioners Stertz, Freeman and Mathis have all decided to waive legislative privilege regarding this lawsuit. McNulty and former Commissioner Herrera have not waived the privilege.

Two redistricting commissioners, Stertz and Freeman are scheduled for depositions in Leach in the next couple of weeks. The folks at S&W want to grill all five of the commissioners under oath, as well as AIRC ex dir Ray Bladine, his deputy Kristina Gomez and staffers with mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry.

What ensued was Leach counsel demanding all of the commissioners be deposed and AIRC counsel filing a motion for protective order to preclude requiring those depositions. AIRC counsel said the commissioners had already been deposed on all the issues for the Harris bench trial in 2012/2013. Leach's attorneys filed a reply and cross motion seeking to compel all the depositions.

A hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court is now scheduled for Friday, December 4 (this week) on those motions.

Leach's attorneys also filed disclosure statements, requests for production of documents, and non-uniform interrogatories.

In those filings, it becomes clear that Leach's attack dogs want to re-litigate several issues that have already been adjudicated -- including but not necessarily limited to alleged Open Meeting Law violations (ruled in Superior Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals) and the selection of Strategic Telemetry.

In addition to all of those filings, Commissioner Stertz filed a 29-page notice to the court of his position on the pending motions related to the protective orders. Basically, he proudly wants everyone to know he is waiving his legislative privilege. His notice concludes,
While Commissioner Stertz does not dispute that his co-commissioners have a privilege that they are entitled to invoke, he does dispute that they “cannot be forced to sit for depositions.” Their privilege entitles them to refuse to answer questions at a deposition that are protected by that privilege; it does not entitle them to avoid being deposed altogether.
Therefore, Stertz notified the court that he does not oppose plaintiffs' motion to compel the depositions.

Stertz' notice raises other legal issues. Namely, given that the AIRC didn't authorize Stertz' attorney to do this work, does either Stertz or John Munger expect the taxpayers to foot the bill for the legal work that went into writing and filing the notice?

Given the issues Leach (and Stertz and Freeman) want re-litigated, it seems like they want to pile on Mathis, McNulty and Herrera.

I wonder how much of this crap is going to stick to the wall?

In February 2012, I wrote the following,
The truth/reality in Arizona is that Republicans have tried extremely hard from the very beginning -- in every way possible, EXCEPT by playing by the rules (of Prop 106) -- to USURP the redistricting authority Arizona voters purposefully removed from the state legislature in 2000.
Nearly four years later, and after losing multiple court cases, Arizona Republicans STILL are intent on wasting oodles and oodles more taxpayer money doing everything they can think of to usurp the will of the voters.

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This just came up in a google alert for me.

Redistricting reform gains steam: Voters are fed up with the unfair way some states redraw districts – and the courts seem to agree.
State legislatures are constitutionally obligated to redraw congressional districts every 10 years. But now, with an increased awareness of the potential for unfairness and abuse, voters are starting to push back.
Most states make the redistricting decisions themselves, and accusations of gerrymandering – drawing the maps to unfairly preserve majority advantage – are frequent.
I'm SHOCKED, I tell you!

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