This morning in Richmond Circuit Court Judge Marchant ruled that six and possibly seven state senators were in contempt of court for not turning over documents related to their role in the 2011 redistricting. The redistricting in 2011 is the subject of a lawsuit backed by OneVirginia2021 that is focused on the Virginia Constitution’s requirement of compactness. Eleven districts were chosen as part of this suit – districts drawn and occupied by both parties. The House of Delegates subpoenaed have begun to turn over documents pursuant to the court’s January ruling.
Wyatt Durrette, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs suing over the gerrymandered districts said, “This is an unprecedented move to keep these documents secret. We agreed they could produce them subject to a confidentiality order. They would then have the right to appeal Judge Marchant’s order at the end of the case. It makes us wonder what they don’t want us to see.”
The court imposed a $100 per day per senator fine on the six and possibly seven state senators. The money could come from taxpayers to pay the fine. “They are using taxpayer money to hide public documents a court has already told them to turn over. On top of that, taxpayers are on the hook for paying their fines – almost $5,000 per week. This is not good government or even good politics,” said Brian Cannon, Executive Director of OneVirginia2021. Actual payment is not required until the appeal is decided and will then be due as accrued if the contempt ruling is affirmed or the appeal otherwise denied.
There is still a question of whether or not Senator Richard Stuart, one of the subpoenaed senators, will turn over the documents after his motion to turn over the documents but hold them under seal pending the appeal of the contempt ruling. Otherwise he will be held in contempt along with Senators Saslaw, Barker, Marsden, Edwards, Colgan (retired) and Smith (retired).
OneVirginia2021: Virginians for Fair Redistricting is a group of dedicated people from across the political spectrum who believe congressional and state legislative districts belong to the citizens of our Commonwealth, and not to any legislator, special interest, or political party. We advocate for a fair process, not a particular political outcome.