Redistricting map challenged in court

May 23, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Charging the redistricting of Annapolis violated the city's own rules, two residents are challenging the new map in court.

Bertina Nick and Michael T. Brown filed a request for an injunction Friday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to stop the city from enforcing its new ward lines, just a few months before the September primary.

In their five-page complaint, the two plaintiffs accuse Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and the City Council of failing to follow proper procedures at a public hearing on the redistricting plan January 1992.

The complaint says city lawmakers did not swear in witnesses, did not properly label all exhibits and did not allow Mr. Brown to rebut their comments. Mr. Brown was pushing for a third majority black district.

Instead, the mayor and council voted 8-1 in May 1992 to redraw ward lines to increase the black population in two existing minority districts and slightly reduce the black population in the third.

Calling the plan biased and unfair, Mr. Brown vowed to sue. He had argued strongly for increasing the black population in Ward 6, in which he lost the election four years ago to Republican Alderman Wayne Turner by four votes.

Mr. Brown could not be reached Friday for comment on his complaint. He has not said whether he plans to run again for the Ward 6 City Council seat.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat who was the lone dissenter in last year's vote to adopt the map, said Friday the redistricting was flawed because the council failed to follow its regular procedures for public hearings.

City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson said he could not comment because he had not seen the motion.

If Circuit Court Judge James C. Cawood grants the injunction, the city will be forced to show that proper procedures were followed, or its map will be rescinded, said Alan H. Legum, attorney for Mr. Brown and Ms. Nick.

Mr. Snowden said city elections could be affected if the judge orders a new hearing on the council-approved map.

Under federal law, the city's ward lines are redrawn after each census to maintain a balanced representation on the council.

fTC The 1990 Census found that blacks make up 33 percent of the city's population of 33,187, down 2.4 percent from the 1980 Census.

Mr. Brown said that the black population warrants a third black-majority ward.

But city leaders pointed out at the time that Annapolis has eight wards, so a mathematical breakdown would call for about 2.5 black-majority districts.

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