A Tallahassee trial court judge Friday afternoon denied a motion filed by the Legislature’s attorneys that sought to appoint a special consultant. Second Judicial Circuit Judge George Reynolds sided with a coalition group of plaintiffs who brought the Senate redistricting challenge that ultimately invalidated the chamber’s enacted maps. Lewis said the time frame for the court’s work was too short to implement a new course of action. “The ship has sailed, and we are on the sea with this process,” said Lewis, denying the motion brought by Senate counsel Raoul Cantero.
Cantero filed the motion Thursday. He argued Friday that having the court draw the map itself using recommendations from a neutral consultant would be the fastest and most cost-effective solution to the Senate’s districting difficulties.
Cantero and plaintiffs’ counsel David King both called into question the independence of those in the case who are drawing the maps. Cantero, though, argued that an independent consultant – besides avoiding extended hearings and saving money – would give the public the most confidence that the new maps are fair.
King reminded Lewis that the Senate has already admitted it drew previous maps with bias, and chided the Legislature for its newfound concern over legal costs.