In a harshly worded order issued this afternoon, the court in the Texas voter ID case reprimanded the state for what it said were “well-documented” discovery violations “that can only be interpreted as having the aim of delaying the Defendants’ ability to receive and analyze data and documents in a timely fashion.”
The court said:
Texas has repeated ignored or violated directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery, and Texas has failed to produce in a timely manner key documents that Defendants need to prepare their defense. Most troubling is Texas’ conduct with respect to producing its key state databases, which are central to Defendants’ claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact on racial and/or language minority groups. The record reflects that these databases are voluminous, complex, and essential to the preparation of the opinions of Defendants’ expert witnesses. Yet, according to Texas, the full production of such databases to the United States was only complete on May 4, 2012 - 35 days after they were initially due. The production to Defendant-Intervenors is still not complete.
The court told Texas that “[b]ased on the record to date, this Court would be well within its discretion to continue the July 9 trial date, to impose monetary sanctions against Texas, or to keep the July 9 trial date and impose evidentiary sanctions such as an adverse inference upon Texas.”
However, the court said it would give Texas one final chance, cautioning, though, that:
[T]he only way this case can be ready for trial on July 9 is if every single future deadline, and every single condition, that are set forth in this Order can and will be met by Texas. If any of these deadlines or conditions cannot or will not be met, then the delays or ancillary litigation that will result will either make a July 9 trial impossible at all, or impossible without undue and manifest prejudice to the United States and Defendant-Intervenors. If Texas does not believe in good faith that it is able or willing to abide by all of these deadlines or conditions, then it needs to inform the Court now, so that the Court and all parties will know that the July 9 trial date is truly impossible.
The conditions imposed by the court’s order include mandates that Texas not require subpoenas for appearance of any current legislators or state employees and that Texas not assert any additional claims of privilege other than those already raised with the court.
The order also directed that Texas complete database production by Thursday, May 9, and production of all other non-privileged documents by this Friday, May 11,
The court’s order can be found here.