Morning Roundup: Nov. 29

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Five of the six plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to give courts control of Virginia’s congressional redistricting process have either contributed to or worked for Democrats in the past decade, despite claims the legal action is unaffiliated to the party. Plaintiff attorney J. Gerald Hebert insisted that the lawsuit, which calls for a three-judge panel to draw the state’s 11 congressional districts based on 2010 U.S. Census data, was not filed on behalf of Democrats, though they likely would benefit from judicial mapmaking, reports David Sherfinski of The Washington Times.

D.C. Lottery officials do not plan to change the essential components of their controversial online gambling plan after holding nine community meetings to hear concerns and dispel myths about the program, The Times reports.

The Idaho man charged with the attempted assassination of President Obama after shooting at the White House is competent enough to stand trial, according to a preliminary mental evaluation submitted Monday in federal court in the D.C. But prosecutors want a full psychiatric screening because of the seriousness of the crime and to help bolster their case against defendant Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, The Times reports.

Montgomery County police say they may have a lead on the man suspected in the carjacking and abduction of three older men in separate incidents within a week in Wheaton. The man may have cut his finger during a Wednesday carjacking, a police spokesman said, according to The Times.

Conservative lawmakers have won a skirmish in what they call a “War on Rural Maryland,” getting state officials to delay implementing a land-development plan until a Senate committee has its say. Officials made the decision at the request of state Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, a Cecil Republican who is leading the charge against PlanMaryland, an initiative intended to limit sprawl and protect the environment by encouraging compact development in existing population centers, The Times reports.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the trial of a longtime aide to former Maryland GOP Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. In the case against aide Paul Schurick, state prosecutors allege he played a key role in releasing robocalls aimed at suppressing the black vote during last year’s rematch between Mr. Ehrlich and Gov. Martin O’Malley. The trial is expected to last five days. There is a long list of potential witnesses, including Mr. Ehrlich and Rep. Elijah Cummings. Julius Henson, a political operative, also has been charged in the robocall case. His trial has been postponed until February, according to the Associated Press.

The D.C. Council will hold a hearing today on a bill that would permanently end the practice of arresting drivers for expired license plates. The council passed emergency legislation last month that ended the arrests, which were apparently unique to the nation’s capital. The new bill would impose civil rather than criminal penalties for expired tags. AAA Mid-Atlantic is asking the council to remove the provision calling for impoundment of vehicles. saying it opens the door to abuse by police and towing companies, AP reports.

Steven Spielberg’s sprawling “Lincoln” movie set will be busy over the next two weeks in Richmond. City police have released a list of downtown street closings for the movie’s filming through Dec. 12. The film is being made in the Richmond and Petersburg areas and has brought to the state such stars as Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and James Spader. Mr. Day-Lewis has been cast as Lincoln, AP reports.

The Richmond Tea Party said an audit by the city is retaliation for the conservative group seeking refunds for rally permits and fees, arguing that Occupy Richmond activists have not been charged anything for the same activities. The audit is outlined in a Nov. 14 letter by the city’s Department of Finance. It states the group has not paid admissions, lodging or meal taxes collected by the city, so is now being audited.

The tea party said Monday it has never charged an admission or offered meals or lodging associated with its rallies. The group said the audit is punishment for its complaint that the city had charged it $8,500 for permits and other costs for rallies, while Occupy Richmond activists have not been assessed any costs related to their former occupation of a city-owned plaza, AP reports.

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