Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds warned the challengers in the Senate redistricting case Tuesday that they will have to show that the maps they have submitted were not tainted by improper partisan intent, as they are accusing the Senate leadership of doing.
"You should be held to virtually the same standard out of fairness,'' Reynolds told the lawyers for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause at a 30-minute scheduling hearing in preparation for the five-day trial that begins Dec. 14.
The two groups have sued the Legislature along with a coalition of Democrat-leaning voters for violating the anti-gerrymandering standards of the state constitution when they drew the 2012 map.
The lawyers for the GOP-led House and Senate say that the four maps submitted by the plaintiffs were drawn by a redistricting consultant with ties to Democrats and were designed to intentionally pack Republicans into districts.
Based on the results of the 2014 presidential election, the Legislature says the plaintiff maps give Democrats a 21-19 advantage in the Senate. Other analyses suggest that the plaintiffs' four proposed maps each create a 20-20 partisan split as Republicans retain the advantage because of incumbency and money.