NC Republicans seek dismissal of research assistants over 'tainted' redraw process
North Carolina Republican lawmakers want a pair of research assistants helping a court with the redraw process to be immediately removed.Posted — Updated
A lower court is now overseeing the redraw effort. Judges have until noon Wednesday to enact new maps.
"The communications disclosed by the Harper Plaintiffs' counsel already show that the process is tainted and that the Special Masters' assistants intend to rely on Plaintiffs' experts for privately conveyed information as opposed to public filings that are available to the parties and the public," Strach wrote.
Wang did not immediately respond to a request for comment. When reached by phone on Monday, Jarvis said he hadn't yet seen the court filing and needs to review the complaint further and speak with the special masters before commenting on the matter.
Strach said that standard should also prohibit research assistants from communicating with expert witnesses who have previously provided information on behalf of voting rights groups.
Jonathan Mattingly, who wrote a December report that voting rights groups cited as evidence for why the court should throw out maps the Republican-controlled legislature drew, received an email request for information from Wang, one of the two research assistants Republicans are now seeking to remove.
After providing a response with some information, Mattingly followed up to say he doesn't believe he should have further communications with Wang.
"I did not know you were working with the special master," Mattingly told Wang in a message sent at 9:59 a.m. Sunday. "I have been told that the court order forbids me and [Duke Mathematics Professor Greg Herschlag] from engaging with the special masters team. It makes sense as you are to be at arms-length [and] we are associated with the plaintiffs."
Jarvis communicated with Herschlag, according to documents included in the court filing.
Attorneys for Republican lawmakers are requesting the court remove Jarvis and Wang as assistants, destroy any any work they've completed and prevent the special masters from considering any material the assistants produced.
Strach also wants the special masters and their assistants to immediately produce any additional communications they've had with outside sources about redistricting in North Carolina.
"Keeping Wang and Jarvis on as assistants to the Special Masters will cast a pall on the impartiality of these proceedings," he wrote.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Republican legislative leaders and lawyers for voting rights groups on Monday submitted court filings explaining why the lower court should choose their respective maps.
Common Cause North Carolina, a plaintiff in the case, called the legislature’s revised maps “plainly unconstitutional.”
Lawyers for the Republicans defended the updated maps and said the justices should “decline the plaintiffs’ invitation to judge a redistricting beauty contest.”
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