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Judge holds to dates for state Senate redistricting trial

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Circuit Judge George Reynolds stuck to his guns Tuesday, saying that pre-trial conference and trial dates for a state Senate redistricting challenge were “carved in stone.”

Reynolds held a brief case management conference at the Leon County Courthouse, reiterating that Dec. 1 and Dec. 10 would be reserved for pre-trial, with trial remaining on Dec. 14-18.

As he sat on the bench, Reynolds asked the attorneys “what news” they had.

Florida Senate attorney Raoul Cantero rose to say lawmakers had failed to agree on a new map in a recent Special Session, leaving him to figure out the new lines.

I read that in the papers,” said Reynolds, who’s been on the bench since 1984. 

The League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others sued the Legislature, alleging the current Senate district map was rigged to favor Republicans and incumbents. The Senate settled the case by admitting fault and agreeing to redraw the lines.

Reynolds now must recommend a map of the state’s 40 senatorial districts that ultimately will be approved by the state Supreme Court.

In an effort to get ready for trial, the judge suggested the parties pool their planned exhibits, saying he expected in excess of 200 of them.

He also wanted to get a handle on how many witnesses would be called and coordinate depositions of them beforehand, ordering the parties to come up with a schedule by 4 p.m. Thursday.

Florida House lawyer George Meros told Reynolds the House and Senate might submit a joint map for his consideration; a plaintiffs’ attorney said they might turn in as many as four proposed maps.

“For me, the sooner the better,” Reynolds said. “Time is of the essence.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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