Judge orders LRC to pay attorney fees for winners in legislative redistricting suit

08/07/2012 03:55 PM

A Franklin Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ordered the Legislative Research Commission to meet with and negotiate a settlement for attorney’s fees incurred by state House Republicans and Senate Democrats who challenged the 2012 legislative redistricting maps.

After lawyers for House Republicans and Senate Republicans won their legal challenge to the proposed House and Senate maps this spring, they wanted the legislative branch to cover their fees.

The case at least cost $200,000 in attorneys fees from both sides. The legislature paid the legal fees for the House Democratic and Senate Republican majorities, who went to court to defend the proposed maps in Franklin Circuit Court and the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Supreme Court eventually ruled the maps were unconstitutional because a couple districts were too big and the maps unnecessarily split some counties.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phil Shepherd ruled that if the LRC and plaintiffs can’t reach a settlement for payments of the House Republicans and Senate Democrats’ fees, then court would step in to award the attorneys fees.

In February, House Republicans and Senate Democrats challenged in court the new district maps that a majority of House members and senators voted to approve in January. Those maps were drawn as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census to ensure roughly equal populations in each Kentucky state Senate and House district.

Lawmakers in the minority caucuses — including House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover — argued that the maps were unconstitutional for several reasons. That included that at least one state House and Senate district had populations greater than 5 percent more than the ideal district and that the maps split too many counties.

At the time, Hoover told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he expected total lawyer bills of $75,000 and that he would be “asking people to help, including friends of members who are going to be adversely affected by the changes in district lines.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, was attending the National Conference of State Legislatures legislative summit in Chicago and was unavailable for comment.

Lawmakers must redraw new maps before the 2014 legislative elections.


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