LRC ordered to pay legal fees in redistricting suit - judge sides with Stein, House Republicans

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) - Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Author: Jack Brammer

The Legislative Research Commission must pay the legal fees of House Republicans and Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein, who successfully challenged the redrawing of legislative district boundaries earlier this year, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd granted the plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees in a six-page order. 

Shepherd ordered negotiations over the amount of the legal bills to be completed by Aug. 30. If the parties can't reach a resolution, they must file documents in support of their request for legal fees by Sept. 14, he said. 

Bobby Sherman, director of the administrative arm of the Kentucky General Assembly, could not immediately be reached for comment. 

House Republicans and Stein, of Lexington, successfully challenged redistricting maps that had been approved in this year's state legislative session. 

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the maps were not properly drawn and upheld a temporary injunction to stop the Senate from moving Stein's district in Fayette County to northeastern Kentucky. 

In June, the legislature's top two leaders - House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville - decided that the Kentucky General Assembly would pay the LRC's $19,758 legal bill to defend the lawsuit brought by House Republicans and Stein. 

Stumbo also said in June that he had no plans to use taxpayer money to pay the legal bill of House Republicans. He said he would let House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, "stand behind his word and pay for it himself." 

In February, Hoover said he expected legal bills of $75,000 and that he would seek public contributions to pay for them. Hoover could not be reached Tuesday for comment about the judge's ruling. 

Williams, through spokeswoman Lourdes Baez-Schrader, said he is not surprised "when Judge Shepherd takes a swipe at the General Assembly." 

Brian Wilkerson, a spokesman for Stumbo, said Stumbo could not be reached for comment and has not yet seen a copy of the judge's ruling. 

Lawmakers are expected to reconsider legislative redistricting in the 2013 General Assembly, which begins in January.