Calvin v. Jefferson Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, CASE NO. 4:15CV131-MW/CAS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
Writing for the CourtMark E. Walker, United States District Judge
Citation172 F.Supp.3d 1292
Parties Kate Calvin, John Nelson, Charles J. Parrish, Lonnie Griffin, and Concerned United People, Plaintiffs, v. Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, Jefferson County School Board, and Marty Bishop, Supervisor of Elections of Jefferson County, in his official capacity, Defendants.
Docket NumberCASE NO. 4:15CV131-MW/CAS
Decision Date19 March 2016

172 F.Supp.3d 1292

Kate Calvin, John Nelson, Charles J. Parrish, Lonnie Griffin, and Concerned United People, Plaintiffs,
v.
Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, Jefferson County School Board, and Marty Bishop, Supervisor of Elections of Jefferson County, in his official capacity, Defendants.

CASE NO. 4:15CV131-MW/CAS

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division.

Signed March 19, 2016


172 F.Supp.3d 1294

Nancy Abudu, Esq., Shalini Goel Agarwal, Esq., ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc., Randall C. Berg, Jr., Esq., Dante P. Trevisani, Esq., Florida Justice Institute, Inc., for Plaintiff.

Linda Bond Edwards, Esq., Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, PA, for Defendant Jefferson County.

Gerald B. Curington, Esq., Ausley McMullen, P.A., for Defendant Jefferson County School Board.

ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Mark E. Walker, United States District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Imagine a fictional Florida county—I'll call it Marshall County—with a total census

172 F.Supp.3d 1295

population of 12,000. Marshall County is run by a board of commissioners comprised of five people, each of whom is elected from a single-member district with a total census population of exactly 2,400. The Marshall County School Board, which also has five members, uses the same district lines.

Marshall County is home to one of the state's largest state prisons—I'll call it Marshall Correctional Institution, or MCI—with an inmate population as of the last census of 2,200. The vast majority of inmates at MCI are not from Marshall County. MCI is run according to rules promulgated by the Florida Department of Corrections (“DOC”) and laws passed by the Florida Legislature; the Board of County Commissioners and the School Board have no legal authority to directly regulate the conduct of inmates while they're inside the walls of MCI. Everything—from who is allowed to visit MCI, to where the inmates may smoke—is determined by legislators and administrators operating at the state level and officials at the prison who are employed by the state.

MCI is located entirely within District 3 of the County Commission/School Board districts. Thus, only 200 of the 2,400 people who are “residents” of District 3 are not incarcerated—just 8.5%. When elections are held every four years for the County Commission and School Board, only these 200 people (more precisely, the subset of these 200 people who are eligible to vote and who choose to vote) elect the County Commissioner for District 3 and the School Board member for District 3. In each of the other districts, none of which contains a prison, 2,400 people (more precisely, the subset of these 2,400 people who are eligible to vote and who choose to vote) elect a County Commissioner and a School Board member.

Does Marshall County's districting scheme comport with the “one person, one vote” principle articulated by the Supreme Court? The short answer is “no.” The scheme obviously weighs the votes of District 3 voters more heavily than those of voters in other districts. Less obviously, but just as importantly, the scheme gives the non-incarcerated population of District 3 (whether they vote or not) an increased ability to access and influence their representatives and increased opportunities to reap the benefits of that influence. “One person, one vote” is a theory of representative democracy that is subject to multiple reasonable interpretations, but Marshall County's scheme doesn't pass muster under any of them.

The real county at issue in this case, Jefferson County, differs from Marshall County only in degree. Its districting scheme is perhaps “less unconstitutional” than Marshall County's, but it still violates the Equal Protection Clause.

A. Jefferson County

Jefferson County is a county in North Florida situated just east of Tallahassee. The total population of the county, according to 2010 census data, is 14,761. ECF No. 24, at 4 ¶ 8. The county is governed by the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners (“Board of Commissioners”), whose five members are each elected from a single-member district. Id. at 3 ¶¶ 2, 5. The county's school system is run by the Jefferson County School Board (“School Board”), which is also comprised of five members elected from five single-member “residence areas.” Id. at 3 ¶ 4–5. Unlike the members of the Board of Commissioners, each of the members of the School Board “serve[s] as the representative of the entire [county], rather than as the representative of” the residence area or district from which he was elected.1

172 F.Supp.3d 1296

§ 1001.363, Fla. Stat. (2015).

Jefferson County is home to the Jefferson Correctional Institution (“JCI”), a state prison. The 2010 Census counted JCI as containing 1,157 inmates. ECF No. 30-8, at 10. As of May 18, 2015, only nine inmates at JCI were convicted in Jefferson County. ECF No. 30-1, at 52. The rest were convicted elsewhere in Florida and sent to JCI; a prisoner in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections (“DOC”) has no say in where he will serve his sentence. § 944.17(2), Fla. Stat. (2015) ; ECF No. 30-8, at 3.

B. Redistricting

Under Florida law, the Board of Commissioners is required to redistrict following each United States Census. Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 1 (e). The Board of Commissioners is supposed to divide the county “into districts of contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable.” Id. The School Board does not have to redistrict following the census, but has the statutory authority to redistrict if it deems it necessary to do so. § 1001.36, Fla. Stat. (2015).

Following the 2010 census, the Board of Commissioners consulted with a redistricting expert and concluded that it needed to redistrict in order to meet its obligations under the Florida Constitution. ECF No 25, at 4 ¶¶ 5–7. In 2013, the Board retained a number of attorneys and mapping/districting experts to help draw up proposals for a new districting scheme. Id. at 4 ¶¶ 7–8.

The School Board quite sensibly decided to re-draw its district lines to conform to those of the Board of Commissioners. ECF No. 48-9, at 35–36. The two bodies—“the Boards,” collectively—met together on a number of occasions in mid-to-late 2013 to discuss the proposed redistricting plans. See ECF No. 30-1, at 32; ECF No. 30-4, at 3. At one point, the School Board retained a mapping/districting expert to design maps “to take to the table in talks with the ... Board of Commissioners.” ECF No. 30-4, at 2. That expert prepared two maps for the School Board, ECF No. 30-1, at 29, one of which it presented to the Board of Commissioners at a November 4, 2013 joint workshop, ECF No. 30-4, at 3–4.

Throughout this process, the Boards received advice about how to deal with the large prison population in the county. The Board of Commissioners “was counseled that the [JCI] prison population must be included within the reapportionment base, and the population must be included within the district in which the prison was located.” ECF No. 25, at 4 ¶ 8. The School Board was also advised that the prison population at JCI had to be included when determining whether districts contained roughly equal numbers of people. ECF No. 30-1, at 29.

This advice appears to have been based on opinions issued by the Attorney General of Florida to the Gulf County Board of County Commissioners and Gulf County School Board in 2001. ECF No. 24, at 4. Those opinions advised that, as a matter of state law, the Gulf County Boards were “required to include the prison population of the county” when determining whether districts contained substantially equal population numbers. 2001-55 Op. Att'y Gen. Fla. (2001) (Gulf County Board of County Commissioners); 2001-56 Op. Att'y Gen. Fla. (2001) (Gulf County School Board).2 The Attorney General arrived at his conclusions

172 F.Supp.3d 1297

largely on the basis of the statutory definition of the term “population” (the definition is the same now as it was in 2001):

Reference to the population or number of inhabitants of any county, city, town, village, or other political subdivision of the state shall be taken to be that as shown by the last preceding official decennial federal census, ... which shall also be the state census and shall control in all population acts and constitutional apportionments, unless otherwise ordered by the Legislature.

§ 1.01(7), Fla. Stat. (2015).

The United States Census Bureau, which is the federal entity tasked with conducting the decennial census, counts prisoners as living in the census block(s) containing the correctional facilities in which they are incarcerated. How We Count America , U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov/2010census/about/how-we-count.php (last visited Mar. 16, 2016). The Census Bureau seems to recognize that this choice could potentially present problems, and that some state and local governments might want to adjust census data to remove or relocate (to their pre-prison residences) prison populations. Robert Groves, So, How Do You Handle Prisons? , Director's Blog, U.S. Census Bureau (Mar. 1, 2010),...

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6 practice notes
  • Reprod. Health Servs. v. Marshall, CASE NO. 2:14–cv–1014–SRW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 28 Julio 2017
    ...whether injunctive relief is ordinarily necessary after a court declares a statute or provision unconstitutional. See Strange II , 172 F.Supp.3d at 1292. The court is persuaded by that decision and finds that the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief are moot because of the operation of ......
  • New York v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce, 18-CV-2921 (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 15 Enero 2019
    ...— an open question, however much common sense might suggest the answer is "yes," see, e.g., Calvin v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs , 172 F.Supp.3d 1292, 1307 n.12 (N.D. Fla. 2016) — the "undoubted[ ]" Article III injury that a person suffers when his or her state loses a representative in ......
  • 426, State Question No. 810 Marc Mccormick v. Moore (In re Initiative Petition No.), Case No. 118,685
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 27 Mayo 2020
    ...diluted when compared with votes of citizens living on other parts of the State."); Calvin v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Commissioners, 172 F. Supp.3d 1292, 1303-04 (N.D. Fla. 2016). The second is representational equality, the interest in being represented on an equal footing with one's neighbo......
  • Planned Parenthood Se., Inc. v. Strange, CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:13cv405-MHT
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • 25 Marzo 2016
    ...climate surrounding abortion in Alabama, risks imposing a “harmful chilling effect” on abortion providers and, by extension, on women's 172 F.Supp.3d 1292ability to exercise the right to an abortion. Plfs.' Supp. Br. Appropriate Final Relief (doc. no. 268) at 6. The State responds that, if ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Reprod. Health Servs. v. Marshall, CASE NO. 2:14–cv–1014–SRW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 28 Julio 2017
    ...whether injunctive relief is ordinarily necessary after a court declares a statute or provision unconstitutional. See Strange II , 172 F.Supp.3d at 1292. The court is persuaded by that decision and finds that the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief are moot because of the operation of ......
  • New York v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce, 18-CV-2921 (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 15 Enero 2019
    ...— an open question, however much common sense might suggest the answer is "yes," see, e.g., Calvin v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs , 172 F.Supp.3d 1292, 1307 n.12 (N.D. Fla. 2016) — the "undoubted[ ]" Article III injury that a person suffers when his or her state loses a representative in ......
  • 426, State Question No. 810 Marc Mccormick v. Moore (In re Initiative Petition No.), Case No. 118,685
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 27 Mayo 2020
    ...diluted when compared with votes of citizens living on other parts of the State."); Calvin v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Commissioners, 172 F. Supp.3d 1292, 1303-04 (N.D. Fla. 2016). The second is representational equality, the interest in being represented on an equal footing with one's neighbo......
  • Planned Parenthood Se., Inc. v. Strange, CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:13cv405-MHT
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • 25 Marzo 2016
    ...climate surrounding abortion in Alabama, risks imposing a “harmful chilling effect” on abortion providers and, by extension, on women's 172 F.Supp.3d 1292ability to exercise the right to an abortion. Plfs.' Supp. Br. Appropriate Final Relief (doc. no. 268) at 6. The State responds that, if ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Part two: case summaries by major topics.
    • United States
    • Detention and Corrections Caselaw Quarterly Nbr. 69, June 2017
    • 1 Junio 2017
    ...vision. (Westchester Department of Corrections, New York) U.S. District Court VOTING Calvin v. Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, 172 F.Supp.3d 1292 (N.D. Fla. 2016). County voters and a non-profit organization brought an action against the county's Board of Commissioners, School Boar......

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