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Voter Id Delay Order

Voter Id Delay Order

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Published by: edward_garris on May 08, 2012
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05/08/2012

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1
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA)
 
STATE OF TEXAS,
 
)
 
)
 
Plaintiff,
 
)
 
)
 
v.
 
)
 
Civil Action No. 12-cv-128
 
)
 
(DST, RMC, RLW)
 
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR.,
 
)
 
)
 
Defendant.
 
)
 
)
 
ORDER
 Before the Court are the United States’ and Defendant-Intervenors’ Motions to Clarifythe Trial Schedule (Dkt. Nos. 88 and 85). This Court has carefully considered the parties’ briefs,oral argument, and the entire record in this case, particularly the parties’ representations at thenumerous discovery conferences in this expedited matter and the parties’ conduct during thediscovery process thus far.At the initial status conference in this case, the United States asserted its belief that thiscase could not be prepared and tried in time for the State of Texas to implement S.B. 14 prior tothe November 2012 general election. This Court rejected that position, stating the Court’s firmview that, if S.B. 14 is valid under the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”), Texas is entitled topreclearance in time for the November 2012 election. Based on Texas’ request for expeditedreview so that it may implement S.B. 14 prior to the November election, this Court set a rigorousschedule for expedited discovery, briefing and trial. To date, Defendants have worked tirelesslyin discovery so that this case may be tried the week of July 9, 2012. The Court, moreover, hasmade itself promptly available on numerous occasions to hear and resolve any disputes thatwould otherwise delay discovery.
Case 1:12-cv-00128-RMC-DST-RLW Document 107 Filed 05/07/12 Page 1 of 11
 
2Unfortunately, Texas has failed to act with the same diligence and sense of urgency.Although Texas states that its paramount objective is obtaining preclearance and implementingS.B. 14 in time for the November 2012 general election, Texas’ actions reflect a wholly differentview. Rather than engaging in expedited discovery consistent with its stated goal, Texas hastaken steps that can only be interpreted as having the aim of delaying Defendants’ ability toreceive and analyze data and documents in a timely fashion. Texas has repeatedly ignored orviolated directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery, and Texashas failed to produce in a timely manner key documents that Defendants need to prepare theirdefense. Most troubling is Texas’ conduct with respect to producing its key state databases,which are central to Defendants’ claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact onracial and/or language minority groups.
 1
The record reflects that these databases arevoluminous, complex, and essential to the preparation of the opinions of Defendants’ expertwitnesses. Yet, according to Texas, the full production of such databases to the United Stateswas only complete on May 4, 2012—35 days after they were initially due. (Dkt. No. 43 at ¶ 5).The production to Defendant-Intervenors is still not complete.
2
 Texas’ discovery violations are well-documented in Defendants’ pending motions and inthe countless discovery conferences with the Court. It should be no surprise to Texas that thisCourt has been troubled by Texas’ dilatory conduct. The specific instances of delay detailed in
1
 
It was apparent at the May 3, 2012 status hearing that Texas does not consider evidencefrom the databases to be a critical part of the evidence it will rely upon at trial.
 
2
One of the many examples of Texas’ dilatory conduct is that, although Texas representedto the Court on Thursday, May 3, 2012, that it would finally complete production of all relevantdatabase information to Defendants by Friday, May 4, 2012, Texas filed a Notice on 5:15 p.m.EST May 4 advising that it would, in fact, not be able to produce that information to Defendant-Intervenors until the next week. (Dkt. No. 105). Texas claimed that the delay was due in part tothe fact that its “internal audit [was] necessarily more extensive for databases that will beproduced to private parties, as opposed to a federal law enforcement agency.” (Dkt. No. 105 at2). Texas had every opportunity, but failed, to raise this concern to the Court the previous day.
Case 1:12-cv-00128-RMC-DST-RLW Document 107 Filed 05/07/12 Page 2 of 11
 
3Defendants’ briefs—much of which is not specifically rebutted or contested by Texas—andrevealed or confirmed at the May 3, 2012 hearing, has troubled this Court even more. Althoughthis Court still firmly believes that Texas is entitled to implement S.B. 14 for the November 2012election if it is a valid law under the VRA, this Court will not continue to grant such an expeditedreview while Texas obstructs discovery in a manner that potentially severely prejudicesDefendants’ ability to prepare for trial. Based upon the record to date, this Court would be wellwithin its discretion to continue the July 9 trial date, to impose monetary sanctions against Texas,or to keep the July 9 trial date and impose evidentiary sanctions such as an adverse inferenceupon Texas.At this time, however, the Court is inclined to exercise its discretion to defer ruling on thepending Motions for Clarification in favor of attempting one final time to accommodate Texas’request for a trial the week of July 9, 2012. However, given the delays in discovery that havealready occurred and the limited time that remains to prepare for trial, the Court finds that theonly way that this case can be ready for trial on July 9 is if every single future deadline, andevery single condition, that are set forth in this Order can and will be met by Texas. If any of these deadlines or conditions cannot or will not be met, then the delays or ancillary litigation thatwill result will either make a July 9 trial impossible at all, or impossible without undue andmanifest prejudice to the United States and Defendant-Intervenors. If Texas does not believe ingood faith that it is able or willing to abide by all of these deadlines or conditions, then it needsto inform the Court now, so that the Court and all parties will know that the July 9 trial date istruly impossible.Accordingly, it is hereby,
Case 1:12-cv-00128-RMC-DST-RLW Document 107 Filed 05/07/12 Page 3 of 11

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