September 21, 2011

Judge orders more public hearings on redistricting

Apparently Carson City's First District Court isn't in a big hurry to settle a nearly year-long dispute over redistricting.
Judge James Todd Russell ordered the three member "special masters" panel to hold two public hearings next month before they officially begin drawing their maps.
The three masters will hold a public hearing in Las Vegas on October 10 and one in Carson City on October 11, following a similar pattern used by state lawmakers last March before they released their maps.
Following the hearings, the masters will deliberate behind closed doors before releasing their first draft maps of congressional, state senate and assembly districts.
While the two public hearings will enable the public to re-enter the redistricting debate, Russell further delayed ruling on the biggest sticking point -- and one reason the maps failed to pass during the Legislative session -- which is interpreting the Voting Rights Act.
Russell said he'll issue a written decision before the masters release their first maps next month, and hopefully he'll issue a decision prior to the public hearings. It'd be a shame for citizens to prepare public statements on the maps only to have their statements shot down by a delayed court ruling a few days later.
While today's hearing paves the way for actual map-drawing next month, lawmakers planning on running for office next year are probably getting a little antsy. As Anjeanette Damon wrote in the Las Vegas Sun, the case will probably be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, regardless of Russell's ruling, and possibly the federal court.