The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that lawyers working for GOP leaders don't have to give redistricting communications to their opponents.
Democrats, civil rights groups and non-profits suing over the redistricting plans sought communications from GOP lawyers who worked for legislative leaders as they redesigned House, Senate and congressional districts. The lawyers were paid with state money, and the Democrats' lawyers argued that their communications should be made public, just as other legislative employee communications become public after new maps are approved.
A three-judge panel of Superior Court judges told Republicans to hand over the information, but legislative leaders appealed to the state Supreme Court, which agreed with Republicans.
"Without a clear and unambiguous statement by the General Assembly that it intends to waive its attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine, we are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly's judgment regarding the scope of its legislative confidentiality," the ruling says.
Justice Robin Hudson dissented, and Justice Cheri Beasley did not participate in the decision.