Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The attempts by the Arizona Republican Party Caucus and its secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust to overturn the redistricting by the Arizona Independent Redistricitng Commission (AIRC) are headed for trial soon. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Courts: redistricting lawsuits to move forward, commissioners cannot invoke legislative immunity:
A Feb. 21 ruling by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge denied a last-chance request by the commission to throw out a lawsuit [motion to dismiss] that claims the state’s nine congressional districts were intentionally drawn to give favor to Democrats by packing Republicans into four districts.
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[A] federal court on Friday denied the commission’s request to allow commissioners to refuse answering questions under “legislative privilege” in a suit that claims the state’s legislative map violates federal laws because of population deviations among districts.
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A three-judge panel [federal court] will begin hearing the case on March 29.
Both suits are part of broader allegations made by many Republicans that the commission’s maps were created to favor Democrats with the help of Colleen Mathis, the chairwoman of the five-person panel.
Michael Liburdi, a Republican attorney working on both cases, said he is highly encouraged by the recent rulings and plans to begin deposing commissioners this week.
The two Republican commissioners, who have been cooperative with the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, will be deposed this week, Liburdi said, and the commission’s mapping consultants will be interviewed next week.
Liburdi said he will have the two Democratic commissioners and the independent chairwoman, who have been resistant to previous probes into alleged wrongdoing, given notices for depositions as quickly as possible.
Liburdi, who emphasized the importance of having commissioners required to answer his questions under deposition, said one of the most important questions he wants answered is who advised commissioners on mapping decisions outside the public meetings.
“Who played a role in drafting the district lines and what were their motives?” he said.
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Liburdi said it’s possible partisan operatives may have been giving them direction, and that such revelations might finally come out during the trials.
Here's a tip for the Commission's attorneys: I would like to see Michael Liburdi and David Cantelme, the lawyer/lobbyists who were "partisan operatives" for the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust, who also tried to influence the Commission on mapping decisions, be deposed for the same reason. And I want them under oath to produce evidence as to who is behind FAIR Trust and who is paying for it.
This creates a bit of a problem for these lawyer/lobbyist "partisan operatives": if they are a material factual witness, the rules of professional ethics require that they withdraw as counsel and cannot litigate a case in which they themselves are a material factual witness, in most cases.
The media has got to stop reporting on Michael Liburdi and David Cantelme as if they are just lawyers for the Arizona Republican Party Caucus. They were also partisan political operatives for the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust, and were actively engaged in trying to influence the Arizona Independent Redistriciting Commission (as well documented here, and by Steve Muratore at the Arizona Eagletarian).