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Judge orders release of redistricting documents--again

 A Leon County judge has again ordered more documents to be turned over to plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit over Florida’s redrawn legislative maps.

A group of plaintiffs challenging the maps under Florida’s “Fair Districts” mandate said six weeks have passed since Judge Terry Lewis ordered that the documents be disclosed, with no records produced.

Lewis mostly agreed, ordering Gainesville-based Data Targeting to turn over many the documents within 24 hours.

Any documents that Data Targeting believe to be privileged or confidential will be presented to Lewis, who will make the final decision about whether they should be released.

Attorneys for Data Targeting said they did not immediately comply with the order to produce the documents by April 22, because they feared the damage that could be done by revealing personal and internal communications, letting the “cat out of the bag.”

“What we’ve said all along—it’s a fishing expedition for political reasons,” said D. Kent Safriet, a Tallahassee attorney. “You can’t unpublish (the documents) in the newspaper.”

There is a pending case on appeal that could nullify part of the order to release the documents.

Last week, the 1st District Court of Appeals found that members of the Legislature did not have to testify in the case, and plaintiffs are seeking to get access to records from "non-parties."

Adam Schachter, an attorney for the plaintiffs, called the delays "utterly indefensible," and asked the judge to impose a daily fine until the records are produced.

Lewis said that if the documents were not produced quickly, he do just that. 

“I’m not real happy about it,” he said.