Judge rejects use of redistricting special master

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By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state judge on Tuesday rejected a proposal by Gov. Susana Martinez and other Republicans to use a court-appointed special master to draw new boundaries for congressional, legislative and other elected office districts in New Mexico.

The first trial on redistricting will start in early December.

District Judge James Hall said a special master could increase the time and expense of resolving the once-a-decade task of redistricting rather than making it more efficient as the governor and her allies contend.

"On the surface, it appears logical that the appointment of a special master might streamline the proceedings in that the proposed maps created by the special master would be the focus of any review by the court," Hall wrote. "In reality, delegating certain responsibilities to a special master inserts additional procedural steps to already complex litigation."

Hall is sticking with his previously announced schedule for handling lawsuits brought by groups of Republicans, Democrats and Indian tribes. A four-day trial on congressional redistricting begins Dec. 5. Trials on the state House, state Senate and Public Regulation Commission would be held later in December and in January.

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