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Corrine Brown won’t be ordered to pay redistricting plaintiffs

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A federal judge has shut down a request from the winners of the congressional redistricting case for U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to pay their attorney and expert witness bills of nearly $250,000.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also denied a request to levy sanctions against Brown, saying her case “was meritless” but not “frivolous.” His order was entered late last month.

Brown, a 23-year Democratic congresswoman from north Florida, lost her primary against challenger Al Lawson in the wake of her indictment on charges that she and her chief of staff used a shell nonprofit as a “personal slush fund,” records show.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others had filed a motion against Brown after she unsuccessfully challenged them in federal court.

She had argued that the state’s new congressional districts, ordered to be redrawn by the state Supreme Court, violated federal voting-rights law. A panel of federal judges later said Brown had “not proven (her) case.”

Brown’s seat changed from a north-south district that meandered from Jacksonville to Sanford, to an east-west district that runs from Jacksonville to rural Gadsden County.

The plaintiffs tacked on a “bill of costs” of $23,600 for the consultants they used, adding “expert witness fees” to their previous demand for an “award of attorneys’ fees,” estimated at $220,000.

They wanted a federal judge to “assess attorneys’ and expert fees against Congresswoman Brown because her (Voting Rights Act) and constitutional claims were frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation,” their motion said.

Walker’s order also noted Brown had “voluntarily dismiss(ed her) appeal to the United States Supreme Court,” and “plaintiffs and defendants likewise filed a Joint Stipulation, dismissing all claims related to this action.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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