Fayette County wins district voting appeal

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Will get bench trial and a chance to keep at-large voting

A federal appeals court ruling says Fayette County gets another shot at upholding at-large voting for the board of commissioners and the board of education, The Citizen has learned.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta has ruled that the district court judge made a mistake in granting summary judgment in favor of the NAACP and against the county and the school board in the lawsuit alleging racial discrimination under the federal Voting Rights Act.

The appeal win means that the county and the school board get to present a fresh case for holding on to at-large voting before the federal district judge in what is known as a bench trial. That means that the judge will act as a one-man jury to hear all the evidence and rule after all evidence is presented.

The appeals ruling does NOT overturn the district voting scheme approved by the court, nor does it affect the outcome of last November’s general election.

A bench trial is expected in the near future.

The appeals court also found that Judge Timothy Batten should not have granted a summary judgment against the school board because the NAACP had never asked for it against the Board of Education.