Lawyers for 31 voters suing Republican legislative leaders over racially biased election districts are questioning the other side’s plan for a California political scientist and demographer to testify at a hearing next month. They argue that redistricting consultant Douglas Johnson of Glendale, Calif., should not be allowed to take the stand on Jan. 5 because he has not met a basic, federal requirement that such expert witnesses must file a report in advance covering “all opinions the witness will express and the basis and reasons for them.” “Because legislative defendants have not produced a report for Dr. Johnson, he should not be permitted to offer expert testimony on Jan. 5,” voter lawyers Allison Riggs of Durham and Edwin Speas of Raleigh contend. “Should the court allow him to testify, plaintiffs request that he be ordered to produce a report and be available for deposition prior to Jan. 5.”
Recent recommendations by another California redistricting expert, Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily, are the focus of that hearing.
A 3-judge panel overseeing the case in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina hired Persily as special master in late October to fix problems with racial disparities in four state House and Senate districts that remain problematic in the voting-rights case.
Persily is expected to attend the hearing and present expert testimony about his recommendations.