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Pa. lawmaker may be off the hook for $29,000 in legal fees over redistricting

Pa. Capitol Building, Harrisburg. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Pa. Capitol Building, Harrisburg. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Pennsylvania’s state Sen. Joe Scarnati may not have to pay more than $29,000 out of pocket for legal fees in a redistricting case.

At least, not yet.

A federal judge has put a hold on the order he issued after deeming the GOP lawmaker’s actions in the case frivolous.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

In November, Scarnati — a defendant — argued it was a federal matter, and removed it to a federal district court, where it was assigned to Judge Michael Baylson.

A few weeks ago, Baylson concurred with the league’s claim that Scarnati acted inappropriately and that the lawmaker should cover the league’s legal fees incurred.

Scarnati’s legal team is appealing, and Baylson has now stayed his order as that case is worked out.

In a statement, Scarnati said Baylson found “no bad faith and cited no relevant case law, which makes the assessment of personal liability even more confounding.”

He added, the ruling would have “enormous impact” on “public elected officials making future legal decisions.”

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