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The Wisconsin GOP and the legal team it hired to handle state redistricting was handed a Federal court order yesterday:  Turn over the contents of three computers used to ram through redistricting last year that heavily benefitted the party.

One especially juicy is highly probable that the GOP and its lawyers may have failed to reveal documents on those computers in response to an earlier order from the court and that could be big trouble for the party and the law firm if it turns out to be true.

More below the swirling orange mess that is Wisconsin GOP politics...

Two other firms that worked on the redistricting for the GOP may later have to turn over their documents relating to their work.

The Legislature "must make these three computers available in their entirety immediately" to the groups suing the state, the three judges wrote.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"The computers are extremely likely to contain relevant and responsive materials that should have been disclosed during pretrial discovery. Moreover, Plaintiffs have established that substantial numbers of documents were not disclosed, which satisfies the court that some form of 'fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct' likely occurred," the unanimous opinion said, quoting from a procedural rule.

Experts said if it is found that documents were withheld that should have been turned over, the lawyers involved, who did the work in their offices using computers held there and not in the Legislature, could face legal sanctions.  It also possible that some documents could contain information that might lead to a reopening of redistricting itself.
The panel of three federal judges ruled last year that two Assembly maps on Milwaukee's south side violated the voting rights of Latinos. The court put in place new maps for those districts, but kept the rest of the state's maps in place, allowing Republicans to largely keep districts helpful to them.

But after the ruling, the plaintiffs identified documents that should have been turned over to them but never were. Since then, they have been seeking an opportunity to forensically examine the computers used by the Legislature to draw the maps.

Courts are generally highly sensitive to getting directly involved in redistricting...a task generally the purview of Legislatures.  It will be interesting to see what turns up and the impact it has on the GOP's current stranglehold on state government.  And in case you are wondering, the three-judge federal panel was made up of justices appointed by Reagan, George. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Originally posted to on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 04:58 AM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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