- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

RICHMOND (AP) — A Virginia judge vacationing at Hilton Head, S.C., didn't want to interrupt his vacation to return to Salem for a hearing in the lawsuit that General Assembly Democrats brought against the Republican-led General Assembly's redistricting plans.
So District Judge Richard C. Pattisall asked the attorneys to travel to Hilton Head today for the hearing on a preliminary injunction.
Both sides have said they would send their attorneys, but a state watchdog group is unhappy about the arrangement.
"It's wrong and rather arrogant of the judge," said Steve Calos, co-chairman of the Virginia Network for Campaign Finance Reform, formerly known as Common Cause of Virginia.
He said it would be less costly for taxpayers and those involved if the judge held the hearing in Salem. Mr. Calos noted that groups involved would have to charter private flights.
Randy Davis, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said four attorneys for the state would fly to South Carolina this morning and return the same day.
Democrats want to force the upcoming House of Delegates elections to be held in the existing House districts, rather than follow the new district map.
The Democrats claimed in their lawsuit that Republican leaders engaged in racial, sexist and partisan gerrymandering when they redrew legislative district lines last spring. The U.S. Justice Department has approved the new map.
The state attorney general's office, defending the new plan, consented to holding the hearing at the vacation spot but noted the court might not have jurisdiction to consider matters outside Virginia.
Judge Pattisall will hold the hearing at a community center at Sea Pines, a resort development on the island.
Mr. Calos expressed concern that the news media and the public would have difficulty attending the hearing because of the distance and the expense.
"What if the judge happened to be vacationing on Crete or in Fiji? I mean, is there any end to this?" Mr. Calos said.
Republicans filed a motion asking that Judge Pattisall remove himself from the case because he was a Democratic political activist before he was elected a judge and because he was a social acquaintance of several of the Democratic plaintiffs. Judge Pattisall will hear that motion today, as well as the one for the injunction.
He earlier rejected a Republican motion to move the trial from Salem to Richmond, where most of the defendants live and work.
Democrats said they brought the lawsuit in Roanoke County because House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican, and other Republicans drew up the plan there. Republicans said Democrats were looking for a friendly judge.
Judge Pattisall has scheduled the case for full trial Sept. 20 in Salem.

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