by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Attorneys representing the state of North Carolina in its ongoing legal battle over redistricting want more time to determine whether a group called Democracy Partners and former state Democratic Party chief Scott Falmlen have helped coordinate multiple lawsuits challenging Republican-drawn legislative election maps.
The private attorneys representing the state contend in a court document that such coordination by Falmlen and the Democracy Partners group would violate legal rules that prevent plaintiffs from suing more than once over the same basic issues.
Attorney Thomas Farr filed the document Wednesday in the case of Covington v. State of North Carolina. It’s based on depositions conducted Friday. One involved Douglas Wilson, executive deputy director of the state Democratic Party.
From Farr’s memorandum:
At his deposition, Mr. Wilson produced a series of emails pursuant to the subpoena Defendants served on him reflecting some of the contacts he made to identify plaintiffs in this action. In one such email, written to prospective plaintiff Kristi Tally, Mr. Wilson wrote that, “I am touching base to see if you would be interested in being part of a redistricting federal lawsuit that Democracy Partners is bringing against the state. They along with our Democratic Legislators have targeted key State House and Senate Distircts [sic].” (Id. at pp. 77-84; Wilson Dep. Ex. 7) (emphasis added) Mr. Wilson further told Ms. Tally in an email that he was trying to “identify one African-American and one white plaintiff in each district” and that if she was interested in being a plaintiff, “the attorneys with Democracy Partners will be in touch with you to explain more details.” (Id.) (emphasis added)
Despite making these statements to Mr. Tally, Mr. Wilson testified that he didn’t know anything about Democracy Partners, their relationship with Mr. Falmlen, or their involvement in any other lawsuits in the state, including Dickson. (Id. at 80-81) Mr. Wilson admitted, however, that he understood from Mr. Falmlen that (1) Democracy Partners was the group responsible for bringing this lawsuit and (2) they had worked with unidentified Democratic legislators to target the districts to be challenged in the suit.
Farr’s legal team is seeking more time to depose Falmlen and a representative of Democracy Partners before the the Covington case’s scheduled trial date in April.