After months of feuding, the Florida House and Senate reached a redistricting truce on Thursday and asked the court to hire an expert to draw a new map revising the state Senate boundaries instead of conducting a five-day trial next month. “The appointment of a consultant would streamline this litigation and reduce the burden to the parties and Florida’s taxpayers by eliminating the need for costly discovery and a five-day evidentiary hearing,” wrote the Senate lawyers to Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds. “It would also eliminate any suspicion that the adopted map was laden with improper intent.” Reynolds had asked the parties to submit a scheduling plan for the Senate redistricting trial by Thursday. But after receiving the call for an expert, Reynolds issued an order saying the trial would move ahead as scheduled, with maps submitted by next Wednesday. There was no mention of what he will do with the Senate’s request.
The lawyers for the challengers, a coalition led by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida, were not happy with the Senate’s request. They have drawn three proposed Senate maps and expect to present them in court, along with the Legislature’s alternatives.
“We do not believe appointment of an expert consultant to draw the remedial Senate map in lieu of a remedial trial is appropriate, and will be pleased [to] share with the Court our views on that issue when the Court considers the Senate’s motion,” wrote David King in a letter to Reynolds on Thursday.
A December trial has been scheduled for the court to review a map proposed by the Legislature but, when lawmakers ended their three-week special session last week without agreement, the parties were expected to submit alternative maps and let the court decide.