|By Mike Faulk, Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Thernstrom has been paid to testify in 27 federal court cases across 10 states in the course of his career, but no entity has paid him more than
Piling on fees to attorneys and other expert witnesses, the city has paid
Litigation expenses are typically paid by the city's insurance pool, but
Costs could skyrocket if the city loses the case. The
As costs mount -- attorney fees for July alone were more than
The city has produced more than 340,000 pages of documents in the case and more than 50 people have been deposed, including the current
"Aggressive litigation tactics by the plaintiff necessarily escalate the cost of litigation," said Floyd, whose firm has been paid
"Civil rights litigation is complex, and the
And in the 1990s, it paid more than
In 2011, 58 percent of city voters rejected a ballot initiative to redistrict the city in a way similar to what the
Invoices provided to the
Like the city,
"This is the first case of its type in the state of
The trial date, which has been repeatedly delayed due to the complexity of the case, is tentatively set for
The city has paid a total of
Hamilton also represented comedian-turned-U.S. Sen.
In a deposition between Hamilton and Thernstrom, Thernstrom acknowledges his compensation in the case "is distinctly the largest" he has ever received. Thernstrom charged
"And the city of
"That's correct," Thernstrom said.
Thernstrom goes on to justify the cost by adding that he has never spent as much time researching any other case he has testified in. Floyd said Thernstrom's hourly rate was competitive with other national experts they considered hiring.
"We've reviewed the bills," Floyd said. "He did a lot of work."
Hamilton and the
Latinos make up more than 41 percent of
Council members are currently elected under a hybrid system of at-large voting for three seats and district-based voting for four seats. District elections only occur in the primary, but all seven seats are voted on citywide in general elections.
The city adopted the current system in 1976 after residents approved a charter amendment to create four voting districts for primary elections. In 2011, Montes finished last out of three candidates in the
But another 2011 race also had a big role in the
Conservative opponents, such as Yakima Valley Business Times publisher Bruce Smith, labeled that initiative an attempt by local Democrats to elect more of their own kind to the body, which is nonpartisan.
Three years later,
"This has nothing to do with right or wrong,"
The proposition also suffered from what supporters in hindsight said was a distraction: placing 10-year term limits on council members who are elected to four-year terms.
"The 10-year term limits made an easy way to confuse people and convince them redistricting wasn't a good idea," Baechler said. "It was really an issue of basic fairness."
But Montes' loss and the defeat of the redistricting proposition are almost footnotes compared to the large body of investigative work compiled by the
The only similar case in state history also comes into play: a 1968 federal case also under the Voting Rights Act that overturned
In other words, if the city isn't in violation of the Voting Rights Act now, they say it would be under the
Both sides requested the case be decided without a jury.
"That would be premature" to discuss now, Assistant City Attorney
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