Monroe mapmaker subpoenaed in Texas voting rights case

0

The US Department of Justice is demanding that an Orange County cartographer turn over records that were used by Texas lawmakers to create congressional districts that the federal government says are discriminatory.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division filed a motion on June 15 in the U.S. District Court in White Plains, to compel Eric Wienckowski, owner of MapGraphica in Monroe, to comply with a subpoena.

Wienckowski did not respond to an email requesting a response.

He was subpoenaed in two cases filed last year in federal court in El Paso, Texas, which have been consolidated: United States of America v State of Texas and United Latin American Citizens League v Governor Greg Abbott.

The complaints allege that the Texas legislature has refused to recognize the state’s growing minority population and has carved out congressional districts that favor white populations, in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

“He surgically excised minority communities from the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,” for example, “attaching them to heavily Anglo-Saxon rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away… where they would not have equality electoral chances.

The redistricting was led by Republican State Rep. Todd Hunter, who hired Butler Snow, a public policy law firm, to help with the process. The law firm engaged Wienckowski to provide mapping assistance.

He founded the mapping company in 1999, starting with fishing maps and then expanding into “custom mapping solutions for any project,” according to its website. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a lead mapper for the New York State Redistributive Task Force.

Wienckowski received a subpoena on May 3 demanding documents on the redistricting plan, to be produced by June 2.

Butler Snow responded that Wienckowski would refuse to produce documents, according to the federal government, and would not provide a “log of privileges” outlining why the documents may be withheld.

“Mr. Wienckowski has documents that are highly relevant to the United States’ claims in this case,” the government argues, “and he has failed to articulate a valid basis for upholding them.”

Adam Foltz, another consultant involved in the redistricting process, produced a lien log. He said Wienckowski is protected by liens for attorney-client work product and legislative proceedings. He described the filings as “a confidential analysis…reflecting and involving legislative musings, opinions and mental impressions” and including “contributions from outside counsel.”

The government argues that Wienckowski failed to establish legitimate exemptions.

The United States is entitled to any discovery it deems appropriate, according to the government, because it actively participated in the events, “namely, the adoption of a redistricting plan that would have a discriminatory purpose and result.”

On June 21, Wienckowski asked the court in White Plains to transfer the government’s motion to federal court in El Paso, where similar discovery rulings were issued in the underlying lawsuit. He said the United States did not object to a transfer.

Wienckowski is represented by Manhattan attorney David M. Cohen and Austin, Texas attorney Scott K. Field.

The government is represented by Assistant Federal Attorney David Kennedy in New York and several attorneys from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Office in Washington.

Share.

Comments are closed.