Lawyers get nearly $3 million from taxpayers in redistricting fight UPDATE: Yikes! Legal fees will total more than $5.4 million
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UPDATE: We received a call from the Legislative Council Service telling us the legal fees will actually be substantially more than the $3 million figure reported earlier Monday. In fact, the costs will end up being more like $5.4 million — “at least,” the LCS employee said.
Well, it wasn’t as expensive as the last time around but New Mexico taxpayers will still pay almost $3 million for lawyers involved the recent redistricting legal battles.
On Monday, retired district judge Jim Hall – the man assigned to hearing the arguments over realigning voting boundaries for the state — announced awards of nearly $3 million in fees for attorneys who represented Democratic, Republican, Native American and Hispanic interests in redistricting trials heard earlier this year.
Like all states, New Mexico has to reapportion districts according to the US Census every 10 years.
The $3 million figure is an improvement over the $3.5 million that went out to attorneys the last time New Mexico wrestled with the issue in 2001-2002 and there were fears the price tag would be even higher.
Ten years ago, then-Gov. Gary Johnson and the legislature couldn’t come to an agreement on redistricting and we saw a replay in this past legislative session when the Democratically-controlled Roundhouse passed a redistricting map over Republican objections. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the legislation, sending the battle to court.
At the start of the proceedings that began last December, Judge Hall told the parties involved he would do his best to keep legal fees to a minimum. The final price tag could have been lower but after Judge Hall rendered a decision in February, Democrats complained Hall’s new redistricting maps were unfair and the state Supreme Court agreed, sending Hall back to make adjustments.
Hall came back with a revised ruling later in the month.
We’ll pass along more details about the $3 million awards as they come out. Update: Here’s the document from Monday’s ruling, courtesy of KOB-TV: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101546664/Redistricting
Hat tip to Barry Massey, Associated Press.