by Sam Hieb
The bench trial over the controversial House bill redrawing Greensboro’s City Council districts concluded on Wednesday. It could be several weeks before U.S. Middle District Court Judge Catherine Eagles issues her decision on whether or not the redistricting—which gets rid of the at-large seats and creates eight new council districts grants the mayor only a tie-breaking vote—-used race as a factor.
Witnesses included Mayor Nancy Vaughan and state Sen. Gladys Robinson and state Rep. Pricey Harrison. Notably absent was state Sen. (and former Gboro council member) Trudy Wade, whom many claim was the architect of the plan. In lieu of testimony at the trial, Wade was interviewed by the News & Record:
The three-term, Republican senator insisted nothing could be further from the truth about the eight-district plan at issue in the case.
“My plan was seven districts and the mayor elected at large. But this was a compromise plan of the House and Senate conference committee,” she said.
“This was a plan that was offered by the House, so it’s not Trudy Wade’s plan,” she said of the law that is on hold pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit filed by city government.
But now the issue of whether or not Wade should have testified at the trial is being played out in the N&R, with complaint from Southern Coalition for Social Justice lawyers:
Coalition lawyer Allison Riggs said Wednesday that she was reacting to Wade’s critique of testimony in this week’s two-day trial that the senator felt was incomplete or inaccurate.
“She asserted the privilege (not to testify),” Riggs said of the group’s earlier subpoena. “But then you can’t whine and say, ‘Well, no one asked my opinion.’ If she wanted to have her opinion heard, she shouldn’t have fought the subpoena.”
But there seems to be some confusion here, the way the N&R explains the issue, Wade did give a pre-trial deposition, noting—as the article paraphrases–“that the state Attorney General’s Office prevailed in arguments about whether she had to give a pre-trial deposition.” Regarding trial testimony, Wade claims she was never subpoenaed.
But later the article states “Eagles ruled the GOP senator did not have to submit to a deposition, which the judge called ‘the most intrusive form of inquiry into the legislative process.’” So if Wade did not have to submit to a deposition, then why would she willingly testify if she did not have to?
I’m not a lawyer so I won’t pretend to sort out the legal confusion—-it’s in the judge’s hands now.