St. Joseph County redistricting fight could soon lead to mediation

The St. Joseph County Council and Board of Commissioners could meet as soon as next week to avoid a lawsuit over redistricting.

Council president Rafael Morton tells ABC57 that councilmembers and commissioners are working “feverishly” to schedule a meeting to talk about mediation, which some members favor as an alternative to litigation.

This, as ABC57 learns new financial details of the county council’s lawsuit over redistricting.

The County Council voted 6-3 in November to hire Ice Miller, an outside law firm, to litigate district maps approved by commissioners. According to the agreement between the council and Ice Miller, the lead attorney in the case is charging taxpayers $470 an hour for legal services. Other attorneys with Ice Miller could charge anywhere from $280-$530 an hour, plus expenses. There is no cap on the total cost for legal services related to redistricting.  

A prior agreement between the council and Ice Miller concerning redistricting put a cap on the cost of services at $36,000, plus expenses. ABC57 has requested Ice Miller’s monthly billing statements.

The council's agreement with Ice Miller can be read, here:

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