Courts & the Law, News

Email: Rep. Burr extends offer to meet with judges about surprise judicial redistricting maps

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly) has offered to meet with judicial leaders across the state about his redistricting bill, according to email obtained by NC Policy Watch that was sent to Marion Warren, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

Burr surprised the legal community with House Bill 717, a redraw of the superior court, district court and prosecutorial districts, during the last week of the regular 2017 legislative session. The bill was put on hold until lawmakers return in either August or September.

Democrats opposed the measure and questioned whether it included any sort of political or racial gerrymandering given that the drawing of the maps was done in secret. Burr said he did not consult with the AOC or groups like the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys before the proposed maps were drawn.

Now, Burr appears to have had a change of heart about getting input from the legal community.

“Over the next month, he has offered to make himself available to meet with local judicial leaders in the courthouses and counties directly impacted by HB 717,” said Blair Borsuk, Burr’s research assistant, in the email from Wednesday afternoon. “He would like make himself available as a courtesy in order to discuss the bill, the current structure, existing problems, gather input & proposals, and answer questions.”

Burr and Borsuk have already met with judicial delegations from New Hanover/Pender and Pitt counties and have scheduled meetings at the request of delegations in Mecklenburg and Guilford County, the email states.

“Rep. Burr and I will make arrangements to travel and meet at a time most convenient for local judges,” Borsuck wrote.

Burr has not responded to an open records request and follow-up email regarding the judicial redistricting bill. He spoke recently to WRAL and said he didn’t tell judges about the maps because they would have fought him.

With a map in hand, the debate is about tweaking the map, not about blocking change outright, he told WRAL.

“I’ve seen this play before,” said Burr, who has pushed, sometimes successfully, for smaller judicial redraws in the past. “It’s no longer, ‘How do we kill this?'”

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