Fayette voting case awaits mediator’s direction

Parties in a legal battle over Fayette County voting rights are awaiting direction from an Atlanta mediator on how or if the case can be resolved without going to trial.

Fayette County officials and the NAACP and a group of black Fayette residents met all day Wednesday with Steven J. Kaminshine to try to settle the matter. Kaminshine is dean and law professsor at Georgia State University.

The meeting ended Wednesday without an agreement reached between the two sides. Consequently, another meeting is likely once data collection is complete. It’s unclear when the next meeting will be.

At issue is whether Fayette should have at-large voting or district voting. County officials want at-large voting. The NAACP group wants district voting.

“People were willing to talk to one another and that was positive,” Fayette Commissioner Steve Brown said Thursday. He declined to discuss details of the session.

The session drew at least two dozen people from both sides, includin attorneys from both sides as well as county commissioners, school board members, the board of elections and state and Fayette NAACP representatives and the group of black residents who are plaintiffs in the case.

Federal judge Timothy C. Batten Sr., who is scheduled to hear the case in a bench trial in November, ordered the two sides into mediation to try to settle the matter. If mediation doesn’t work, Batten has said he will meet with the two sides in a settlement conference.

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