- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore yesterday refused to meet with Gov. Mark R. Warner to discuss appealing a ruling on the state's legislative districts, saying the governor is "inclined to oppose the Commonwealth's position."
"Because your statements indicate you are inclined to oppose the Commonwealth's position defending state law in this case, and that you may well become an adverse party yourself, your actions appear to preclude this office from representing or advising you in this matter," Mr. Kilgore said in a letter, which was faxed to the governor's office 90 minutes before the scheduled meeting.
"I am ethically prohibited from advising or otherwise entering into an attorney-client relationship with a person who is or may become adverse to the defendants in this litigation," said Mr. Kilgore, a Republican.
Mr. Warner quickly responded with his own letter, chastising Mr. Kilgore for not doing his job.
"As the Attorney General of Virginia you are obligated to render legal services to the Governor … your refusal to meet with me violates this most basic ethical obligation of the attorney-client relationship," Mr. Warner said. "I expect a prompt briefing from you on this matter."
The Democratic governor has not publicly taken a position on an appeal. In his letter to Mr. Kilgore, Mr. Warner said he has not made a decision and had wanted to discuss the case with the attorney general.
On Monday, Roanoke County Circuit Court Judge Richard C. Pattisall ruled in favor of state Democrats who had filed a lawsuit over the districts, which were redrawn by the Republican-led General Assembly after the 2000 Census and approved by then-Gov. James S. Gilmore III. The judge said many of the districts were unconstitutional because they were racially gerrymandered and ordered the assembly which adjourned last Saturday to reconvene this year and draw new House and Senate lines.
Under Judge Pattisall's ruling, delegates would run in a special election in November in the newly redrawn districts. Senators would not have to run in the new lines until the next scheduled election in November 2003. Democrats stand to pick up seats in the House should the lines be redrawn.
Within minutes of the ruling, Mr. Kilgore announced he would appeal.
Constitutional law experts are divided on whether the attorney general can appeal without the governor's approval.
"In this case, there is really no question that the attorney general has to defer to the governor," said Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law expert at the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe Law School. "The main party named in this case is the governor. It doesn't matter at all that the governor was Jim Gilmore."
Mr. Kilgore's office says Virginia law requires him to proceed.
"The constitution and the Code of Virginia require the attorney general to defend the laws," said Tim Murtaugh, Mr. Kilgore's press secretary. "We are basing everything on the code."
The Code of Virginia says that "all legal service in civil matters for the Commonwealth, the Governor and every state department … including the conduct of all civil litigation in which any of them are interested, shall be rendered and performed by the Attorney General."


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