Orange readies for costly redistricting legal fight

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Apr 24, 2013 Comments Off on Orange readies for costly redistricting legal fight Wes Hodge

Orange County officials are preparing to spend up to $340,000 on private legal counsel to defend a redistricting plan in court against allegations of diluting the Hispanic vote.

The case is set for trial in 2014, but county commissioners are being told that outside legal expertise is needed now. If approved in a vote by the board next Tuesday, GrayRobinson attorney George Meros would be hired to take over as lead attorney for the county, at a cost to taxpayers of $365 an hour.

“Absolutely, it’s the right direction to go,” said Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “Of course I’m disappointed, but not surprised.”

A civil-rights group sued Orange County leaders in August, arguing that officials drew new political districts that are discriminatory and violate “the civil rights of Latinos by diluting their voting strength.”

The Hispanic population grew by 83 percent overall in Orange during the past decade. But the District 3 commission seat historically held by Latinos was re-drawn so that its Hispanic voting-age population fell from about 45 percent to 41 percent, the federal lawsuit by LatinoJustice PRLDEF says.

Click here for the story in the Orlando Sentinel 

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