Home Courts Monroe mapmaker subpoenaed in Texas voting rights case

Monroe mapmaker subpoenaed in Texas voting rights case

The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that an Orange County cartographer turn over records that were used by Texas lawmakers to create congressional districts that the feds claim are discriminatory.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division filed a motion on June 15 in U.S. District Court, White Plains, to compel Eric Wienckowski, owner of MapGraphica in Monroe, to comply with a subpoena.

Wienckowski did not reply to an email asking for a response.

He was subpoenaed in two cases filed last year in federal court, El Paso, Texas, that have been consolidated: United States of America versus State of Texas and League of United Latin American Citizens versus Gov. Greg Abbott.

The complaints argue that the Texas legislature refused to recognize the state’s growing minority population and carved out congressional districts that favor white populations, in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

“It surgically excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,” for example, “by attaching them to heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away … where they would lack equal electoral opportunity.”

The redistricting was led by Republican state Rep. Todd Hunter, who hired Butler Snow, a public policy law firm, to assist with the process. The law firm hired Wienckowski to provide mapping support.

He founded the cartography company in 1999, beginning with fishing maps and then expanding to “custom mapping solutions for any project,” according to its website. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a senior cartographer for the New York State Task Force on Reapportionment.

Wienckowski was served with a subpoena on May 3 demanding documents about the redistricting plan, to be produced by June 2.

Butler Snow responded that Wienckowski would refuse to produce documents, according to the feds, and would not provide a “privilege log” describing why the documents may be withheld.

“Mr. Wienckowski has documents that are highly relevant to the United States’ claims in this case,” the government argues, “and he has failed to articulate a valid basis to withhold them.”

Adam Foltz, another consultant involved in the redistricting process, did produce a privilege log. He said Wienckowski is protected by privileges for attorney-client work product and legislative deliberations. He described the records as “confidential analysis … reflecting and implicating legislative thoughts, opinions and mental impressions” and including “contributions from outside counsel.”

The government argues that Wienckowski has not established legitimate exemptions.

The United States is entitled to whatever discovery it may deem appropriate, the government says, because he was an active participant in the events, “namely, the passage of a redistricting plan alleged to have a discriminatory purpose and result.”

On June 21, Wienckowski asked the White Plains court to transfer the government’s motion to federal court in El Paso, where similar discovery rulings have been issued in the underlying lawsuit. He said the United States does not oppose a transfer.

Wienckowski is represented by Manhattan attorney David M. Cohen and Austin, Texas attorney Scott K. Field.

The government is represented by assistant federal prosecutor David Kennedy in New York and several attorneys in the Department of Justice civil rights office in Washington.


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