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Judge skeptical of Texas redistricting aide's testimony

Updated: Monday, February 13 2012, 09:19 AM CST
A judge presiding over a trial to determine whether the Texas Legislature's election map violates the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday expressed skepticism that a top staffer drawing the maps rarely consulted with elected officials when redrawing Texas' map.

Gerardo Interiano, the top staff member on the Texas House GOP's redistricting effort, testified on Wednesday that he rarely consulted with elected Republicans including the speaker of the Texas House and the chairman of the House's redistricting committee.

That drew a response from Judge Rosemary Collyer, one of three judges deciding if the Legislature violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

"I find it difficult to believe staff would make a decision without the Speaker and the (redistricting committee) chairman," she said.

Interiano maintained that was the case even under questioning from Collyer.

"There were few situations where we needed to take it to the Speaker," he said, referring to speaker of the House Joe Strauss.

Interiano testified for a second time at the proceeding in Washington on Wednesday. Testimony included a demonstration of the software used to craft the new maps that prompted the flurry of legal challenges.

Interiano walked the court through his process for drawing the maps and said he drew them without any racial bias and with deference to incumbents.

"What was difficult about this process was the directive to protect every member," he said. "The goal was to work with as many members as we could."

Testimony in the trial is set to conclude on Thursday with more expert testimony. Closing arguments have been moved up to early next week so that both sides can focus on action pending in a federal court in San Antonio, which is charged with drawing interim maps for state elections.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)Judge skeptical of Texas redistricting aide's testimony


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