With May elections hanging in the balance, lawyers made their case before a three-judge appeals court panel in Houston Wednesday in an historic voting rights case that will determine how Pasadena elects its city council. The lawyers’ rapid-fire, back-and-forth discussion with the robed trio of judges perched above them drifted from esoteric — how do you properly measure voting power? — to downright gritty — was Pasadena’s mayor motivated by mounting racial tension when he brought a pistol to a city council meeting? The City of Pasadena asked for the expedited hearing before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a narrow issue – the structure of Pasadena’s City Council districts for the upcoming election.
Hearing the case for the circuit court were judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, Priscilla Owen and Gregg Costa.
At a later date, the court will address the city’s appeal of a sweeping order from a lower court judge who threw out Pasadena’s city council election format, saying it was discriminatory against Hispanic voters.
The judge ordered the city to revert to a 2011 system for electing the council, with eight single-member-district seats, instead of the 2014 system that used six single-member and two at-large districts.