From Michael Li:
Intervenors in the Texas voter ID case asked the court today to delay the scheduled July 9 start of trial in the case, citing discovery delays by the State of Texas. The intervenors said the delays had already put the parties at least five weeks behind schedule.
According to the motion:
From the outset, Texas has asked for speed from others, but conducted itself as if time were not of the essence … Despite months of lead time, Texas has not been prepared to meet the very accelerated scheduled for which it petitioned this Court.
The intervenors cited to what they said was the insistence of the state on formal discovery before producing even basic documents such as transcripts of the legislative process.
More critically, they said the state had yet to produce “essential commuter data” from its voter registration, driver’s license, and concealed weapon permit databases that the intervenors said they needed to prepare detailed expert reports on the effect of the law on minority voters. They said those problems were compounded by misrepresentations by the state about the information maintained in its databases and the fact that, even when the state had produced information, it delayed in providing the intervenors with the passwords necessary to access the data.
The intervenors also said that the state’s repeated assertions of broad evidentiary privileges had “resulted in weeks, if not months, of delay in discovery.”
The Justice Department has made the same request, echoing the intervenors’ arguments:
Texas has failed to produce critical discovery in a timely manner or at all, and has asserted wide-ranging, shifting, and sequential privilege claims that will continue to require significant resources from the parties and the Court to resolve. These discovery delays have been caused by the State’s own conduct and strategic decisions, and have occurred despite the Attorney General’s best efforts to facilitate the expedited litigation of this matter. While the Attorney General shares the parties’ and the Court’s interest in resolving this matter as quickly as is reasonable, the State’s litigation decisions and discovery delays have rendered a July 9, 2012 trial date both impractical and severely prejudicial to the Attorney General … The State of Texas, which professes that ‘implementing SB 14 for the November 2012 elections is the paramount goal of this litigation,’ (ECF 83) has taken precisely the opposite approach at every step.
Ouch. There are stories about this now in the Express News and Statesman; you can see the intervenors’ filing here and the DOJ’s filing here. A response from the state is due today. One of the reasons for delay has been the state’s insistence that legislators be shielded from depositions; last week the court ruled that in general legislators would not be exempted from being deposed but could ask to be excluded on a case by case basis. No doubt that will drag things out further. Note here that the state’s modus operandi has been similar to that for redistricting. They took their time producing maps, then took the long road for preclearance, and finally threw the entire election schedule into chaos by pursuing and getting a stay from SCOTUS on the original interim maps, all the while complaining about how long this was taking. Note also that the state took its sweet time responding to the Justice Department’s requests for data during the preclearance process for voter ID. It’s entirely their responsibility that it’s this late in the calendar. I see no reason why the court should give them any special dispensation here. This trial will take as long as it takes, and if you don’t like it that’s just tough.
On a side note, because I don’t have any better place to fit this in, AG Greg Abbott’s office accidentally exposed the Social Security numbers of 13 million registered voters in Texas. Thankfully, the goofup was caught before anything that shouldn’t have been was made publicly available. Oops.