RALEIGH – It was a packed house to hear the arguments over what evidence should be disclosed in the on-going district line battle in North Carolina. Defendants said they believe they have turned over all the necessary documents.
“I feel very confident in our legal counsel, which incidentally includes the Attorney General's Office, and have every confidence that they have lived up to the letter of the law,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis.
A lower court three-judge panel said legislative leaders had to turn over correspondence between them and their counsel which occurred prior to the maps being finalized.
But the leaders, who are the defendants in this case, said some of the correspondence falls under attorney-client privilege.
“We knew we were going to go to the DC courts, so we were preparing a case from day one knowing that we had that,” said Sen. Robert Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican, “and because of that you have to have attorney client privilege as you move forward.”
Justices questioned the plaintiff's attorney as to why the attorney-client privilege should be waived.
They said the actual issue here is that the defendants are including too many people in their list of attorneys.
“The defendants have suggested that attorneys doesn't really mean attorneys providing legal advice,” said attorney Edwin Speas, “it means attorneys drawing maps. Well, your honors, I don't know how you could possibly read the word counsel to mean counsel but not mean counsel doing legal work. That makes no sense.”
Plaintiffs said they believe the defendants might not be turning over the key evidence.
“Did they unconstitutional split precincts, divide counties, and create these gerrymandered districts?” asked Speas. “And the evidence we are looking for is relevant to that, we believe.”