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Kingman Park Civic Association v. Williams

May 10, 2007

KINGMAN PARK CIVIC ASSOCIATION, ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CA-7993-02) (Hon. Zoe Bush, Trial Judge).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kramer, Associate Judge

Argued November 15, 2005

Before REID, GLICKMAN, and KRAMER, Associate Judges.

The appellants appeal from the trial court's order granting a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment on their Complaint that the Ward Redistricting Amendment Act of 2001 ("Redistricting Act"), codified at D.C. Code § 1-1041.03 (2001), which reconfigured the eight election wards in the District of Columbia, violates the redistricting standards set forth in the District of Columbia Election Act, D.C. Code § 1-1011.01 (2001) ("D.C. Election Act"). We affirm the trial court's order.

I.

Appellants, the Chevy Chase Civic Association and the Kingman Park Civic Association (hereinafter referred to as the "Associations"),*fn1 filed suit in the Superior Court against the District of Columbia, the Mayor in his official capacity and the individual members of the Council of the District of Columbia in their official capacities (hereinafter referred to collectively as the "District of Columbia") after their communities were split between Wards 3 and 4 and Wards 6 and 7, respectively, by the redistricting process. The Council passed the Redistricting Act on June 19, 2001, setting out the new Ward boundaries, and it became effective on October 2, 2001. The redistricting process was in response to the 2000 federal decennial census, which revealed that the District of Columbia had undergone a significant demographic shift since the previous electoral wards were established.*fn2 Several plans were proposed and considered before the final redistricting scheme was enacted.

Before bringing their suit in the Superior Court, the Associations had filed a similar case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the validity of the Redistricting Act based on violations of § 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973, and, in addition, asserting D.C. Election Act claims. Concluding that the Associations had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under § 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, the District Court dismissed the suit pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6) and declined to exercise pendant jurisdiction over the Associations' D. C. Election Act claims. Kingman Park Civic Ass'n v. Williams, No. 01-2675(GK), 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15254 (D.D.C. 2002).

The Associations appealed that ruling, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, although rejecting the District Court's conclusion that the Associations had failed to state a claim, affirmed the District Court's judgment of dismissal on the alternative ground that the Mayor and Council were entitled to summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). Kingman Park Civic Ass'n v. Williams, 358 U.S. App. D.C. 295, 348 F.3d 1033 (2003). (Kingman II).In reaching that judgment, the Circuit looked to the three predicate conditions set forth by the Supreme Court in Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30 (1986), that are necessary to make out a prima facie case of vote dilution under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act:

1. That the minority group in question is "sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district";

2. That the minority group is "politically cohesive"; and

3. That the "majority votes sufficiently as a bloc to enable it . . . usually to defeat the minority's preferred candidate."

Kingman II, supra, at 358 U.S. App. D.C. at 303-04, 348 F.3d at 1041-42.

The Circuit Court noted that the Associations had "not alleged that African American voters in Ward Six or Ward Three are politically cohesive or that Ward Six or Ward Three is characterized by racially polarized voting," nor had the Associations "submitted affidavits or any other evidence supporting such a conclusion." Kingman II, supra, at 358 U.S. App. D.C. at 304-05, 348 F.3d at 1042-43. Having determined that the District was entitled to summary judgment on the sole federal claim properly before the court, the Circuit Court affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the pendent D.C. Election Act claims.

While their federal claims were pending appeal before the Circuit, the Associations brought the instant suit in the Superior Court alleging that the District's Redistricting Act violated the D.C. Election Act. The District of Columbia filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion,*fn3 finding: (1) the wards under the Redistricting Act were sufficiently "compact and contiguous" because "a resident can reasonably access all portions of the election district[s] . . . without leaving the district," (2) "[t]here is no 5 absolute requirement that census tracts not be split," (3) the Associations could not sustain their claim that minority votes were diluted because they did "not show[] [that the District of Columbia was] motivated by a racially discriminatory purpose," and (4) there was "no authority for the proposition that failing to fall within [the Council's Subcommittee on Labor, Voting Right and Redistricting]'s target range [which was less than the statutory dictate of 10%] results in violation ...


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