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Appeals court agrees to stay the release of secret docs in redistricting trial

Now the appeals court wants to see the 538 secret documents.

On the eve of the redistricting trial scheduled to begin on Monday, the  First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee agreed to a last-minute stay to stop the release of 538 pages of emails, maps and planning documents held by the political consultants to the Republican legislators. 

Lawyers for the political consulting firm Data Targeting and its owner Pat Bainter argued that the documents are “trade secrets” and the courtroom should be closed if they are introduced in court as part of the redistricting challenge to the 2012 congressional maps.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis rejected that request and ordered the documents released if and when they are introduced as part fo the record in the two-week trial. Bainter's lawyers appealed the ruling on Thursday.

In an order issued at 4:45 p.m. on Friday, the First District Court of Appeal agreed to conduct an expedited review of Lewis' ruling, stayed the decision, ordered transcripts and briefs filed by 5 p.m. Monday -- and required that Bainter and his lawyers provide the court with copies of all 538 documents.  Download First DCA stay 516

"We may have to rearrange our witnesses,'' said Mark Herron, a lawyer for a coalition of citizens groups challenging the congressional redistricting maps. "The trial is not stayed, only the effect of those orders."