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Updated: Democrat Files To Intervene in Redistricting Suit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A three judge panel has been named to hear the lawsuit over the redistricting for the state House of Representatives. They are 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harris Hartz, Chief U.S. District Judge Bruce Black and U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson.

A hearing in the case is set for 1:30 p.m. today.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Albuquerque Journal.

Lawyers for Democratic State Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe and four other parties to redistricting proceedings in state court have asked to intervene in the redistricting challenge filed in federal court Monday by Republicans.

The intervenor-defendants are seeking for the federal lawsuit to be dismissed.

“They’ve essentially filed a friendly lawsuit where you sue yourself and agree with yourself,” attorney Ray Vargas Jr., who represents the intervenors, said of the federal complaint. “Unfortunately, they did not bring any people who don’t agree with them into the suit. We believe as real parties in interest we have a place at the table.”

Meanwhile, Republicans who challenged the New Mexico Supreme Court’s order to go back to the drawing board on redistricting filed documents formally asking the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to designate a three-judge panel to hear the case.

The “Egolf parties” sought the consolidation of several redistricting cases filed in different judicial districts in the state, which were assigned to retired Judge James Hall, according to their filing.

The Supreme Court sent Hall’s plan back to him for revision late last week.

The federal lawsuit contends the high court’s instructions to Hall abandon the one-person, one-vote principle in favor of race-based considerations.

Democrats currently hold a narrow margin in the House.

The Egolf parties say they do not represent any political party and that their interest in the state proceedings is the “assertion of and protection of the voting rights and interests of racial and ethnic minorities in the redistricting of New Mexico’s congressional and state legislative districts.”

The plaintiffs in the federal proceedings, they say, have been characterized in the press as “allies of Gov. (Susana) Martinez” and the attorneys have represented Republican Party interests in the state litigation.

The pleading claims the federal lawsuit is intended to “derail the ongoing New Mexico state court redistricting proceedings…and effectively prevent implementation of any final redistricting plan adopted in the New Mexico state courts.”