CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Secretary of State's Office on Monday filed its responses to three of the five challenges to the state's new legislative redistricting plan.
Monroe County Commissioners Michael Shane Ashley, Clyde Gum Jr. and William Miller, Putnam County Commissioners Stephen Andes and Joseph Haynes, Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood, Mason County Commissioners Bob Baird, Myles Epung and Rick Handley, and Mason County Clerk Diana Cromley have filed a lawsuit challenging the House of Delegates redistricting plan.
Monongalia and Wood county residents Eldon A. Callen, Jim Boyce, Petra and John Wood, and Frank Deem have filed a lawsuit challenging the Senate plan. Callen serves on the Monongalia County Commission. Deem is a former state senator.
South Charleston attorney Thornton Cooper has filed petitions to both House and Senate plans.
All argue that the plans are unconstitutional, and want the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to stop Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office from implementing them.
Tennant's offfice, which already filed responses to the House cases by Cooper and Putnam and Mason counties, was required to file responses in the three remaining cases Monday.
They will serve as the responses to rule to show cause, the state Supreme Court said in an order last week.
The Court said Tennant had to show cause why a writ of prohibition or mandamus should not be awarded against her office, as requested by the petitioners.
Tennant again pointed out Monday the "pressing" time issues involved in the case and argued that both plans are constitutional.
"Clerks, county commissions and candidates considering filing for office have imminent deadlines to accomplish certain required actions and to make personal and professional decisions," she wrote in a very similar Nov. 4 response.
Potential candidates, Tennant says, must know for what delegate district they may file at least by the filing period, which starts Jan. 9, 2012 and lasts until Jan. 28, 2012 -- "and even sooner if they need to give the matter some study and thought before filing."
County commissions, she says, must have completed the redrawing of any precincts that include territory contained in more than one senatorial or delegate district no later than Jan. 21, 2012.
With respect to the second deadline, any proposed redrawing of precinct boundaries must be published as a legal notice at least one month before revised boundaries take effect, making Dec. 21 the last possible date of publication, she says.
Accordingly, Tennant's office is requesting a ruling from the Court by Dec. 1.
Oral arguments in the case will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday.
According to a notice by the Supreme Court Tuesday, each petitioner will be allotted 15 minutes to argue. Some of that time may be reserved for rebuttal.
In the House redistricting cases, Cooper will be representing himself. Jennifer Scragg Karr will be representing Putnam and Mason counties. Jeffry A. Pritt will be representing Monroe County.
In the Senate cases, Cooper again will be representing himself. Roger D. Forman will be representing the Monongalia and Wood county residents.
The respondents in each case will be allotted a total of 30 minutes to argue. Thomas W. Rodd of Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office will be representing Tennant. Anthony J. Majestro will be representing House Speaker Rick Thompson.