Friday, February 24, 2012

In Redistricting Case, State Lawyer Arrogates, Not Litigates

It's amazing how the GOP legislators in Milwaukee Federal Court over their redistricting plan and process are being represented - - on our dime:

After being forced by a three-judge Federal panel to release documents in the redistricting case, after having an attorney for GOP legislators deposed about the withheld documents, after being fined for filing frivolous motions, and after being repeatedly tongue-lashed from the bench about poor procedures - - a "charade," and out-of-character for Wisconsin, according to the panel's chief judge - - an Assistant Attorney General actually had the temerity in Federal Court yesterday to lecture the three-judge panel about the relative insignificance of procedure.

As reported by Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel:

The panel hearing the case - two of them appointed by Republican presidents - repeatedly has admonished GOP lawmakers for the secretive process they used to draw the maps.

But [Assistant Attorney General Maria] Lazar argued on Thursday that the judges must concentrate on the maps themselves, rather than how they were drawn.

"The process of legislation is not on trial," she said.
That sure looks disrespectful to me - - and hardly the way to get past all the earlier statements and actions from the bench that practically shout out that process is pivotal when it comes to writing laws about voting and representation in a democracy.

Nothing about how the case has unfolded shows the judges will respond positively to that bit of unwanted arrogance - - and citizens should be further outraged at this display of wasted taxpayer dollars on top of all the fees paid to private attorneys and GOP legislators whose secret processes has landed them in Federal Court.

Lazar must have missed this statement about process from the bench Tuesday by Judge J. P. Stadtmueller, the chief of the three-member panel:
..we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing. 
Seems to be a Wisconsin GOP trend of late.

And risking a bit of apples-to-oranges-criciticism: ask Ryan Braun if process is unimportant when it comes to things legal.


Paul Trotter said...

My vocabulary increase daily reading your blogs James.

James Rowen said...

Why, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insights, more informed than mine, but I also had thought that tack taken was rather unwise -- and unwarranted (but no doubt also unwanted by the panel).

Wouldn't there be a parallel, it seemed to me, with the "fruit of the poisoned tree" argument that the courts have held in criminal cases? That is, process matters, as a tainted process produces tainted results (or results so suspect as to be adjudged fatally flawed).