- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 23, 2002

RICHMOND Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and Gov. Mark R. Warner reached a truce yesterday in their partisan feud over how the state will appeal a judge's ruling that strikes down new legislative district lines drawn last year by a Republican-led legislature.
The compromise allows Mr. Kilgore, not a lawyer of Mr. Warner's choice, to represent State Board of Elections Secretary Cameron Quinn, while Mr. Kilgore agreed to Mr. Warner's demand to ask the state Supreme Court for an expedited appeal.
The agreement was announced in a statement Mr. Warner and Mr. Kilgore issued jointly after a private meeting in Mr. Warner's office. Press secretaries for both officials declined to discuss what was said in the meeting.
Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, wants the state Supreme Court to reverse the ruling and uphold the 2001 redistricting plan. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, considers Salem Circuit Court Judge Richard Pattisall's March 11 ruling "sensible and defensible" and wants it upheld.
Judge Pattisall ruled that the districts drawn by majority Republicans in the House of Delegates and Senate amounted to racial gerrymandering by packing majority-black voting precincts into misshapen districts that unreasonably split up communities of common interest. By creating a few black, Democratic-voting supermajorities, the ruling held, the redistricting plan yielded neighboring districts with white majorities that tend to vote Republican.
Minutes after the ruling, Mr. Kilgore announced plans to appeal.
When Mr. Warner asked Mr. Kilgore the next day to meet with him and explain his action, Mr. Kilgore canceled the briefing at the last minute.
Tension increased with an exchange of sharply worded letters and news releases by both offices as Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Warner argued over how much say each should have in establishing the state's position in court cases. On Monday, Mr. Warner sought to isolate Mr. Kilgore from representing the executive branch altogether by selecting a lawyer of his own for the appeal and offering the same for Miss Quinn, even if she chose to defend the redistricting law.
The meeting yesterday and the joint statement, drafted by lawyers, sought to cool the rhetoric and resolve who decides what in future cases: the state's chief executive or its independently elected top lawyer.
"We have agreed to develop a process that will allow us to discuss the future cases and issues that come before the Commonwealth on which we may disagree," they wrote in their statement.
Mr. Warner said the agreement to seek expedited oral arguments before the state's high court ahead of its summer recess in June is critical to both sides. If the court upholds Judge Pattisall's ruling, that could force the state to either redraw its legislative districts and hold new elections, perhaps as early as this year for all 100 House seats, or seek an appeal in federal court.
With the Republicans in charge last year of redistricting for the first time in Virginia, the party gained 12 seats, expanding its majority to 64 seats. Democrats want the lines redrawn in hopes of reducing the Republican advantage.


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