Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Merger Mediation Madness

Strange times in Memphis.

Don't we have to speculate that Judge Mays' decision was nearly complete?  That between his work and that of his law clerks, many hours had already been expended on writing the decision to decide the September trial?

Late last week came word that the parties to the federal litigation would enter into mediation talks this week.  Talks are continuing today, after ending Monday evening.

But what does it all mean?

Several of the more important players have no role in the mediation - Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and the former head of the Memphis City School Board Martavius Jones come to mind.  Not that they're not plugged in to what's happening, but they're not parties to the litigation or the mediation.

There are reasons to settle, regardless of which side you're on.  The legal fees just keep increasing.  The legal sniping just keeps getting uglier.  The whole process has been incredibly divisive, and we haven't even gotten to the trial where the County Commission alleges "resegregation."

But I would prefer to see a clear, precedent-setting decision on the constitutionality of Senator Norris' laws.  I don't think you should negotiate the constitutionality of a law.  And the state legislature has been getting lazy, and getting away with not following their own processes.  It's a political thicket that judges are loathe to enter, but I would encourage Judge Mays to make a ruling.

I suspect that the political consequences for all sides in settling will be too steep, and that settlement will not occur.  But I'm not willing to put money on any of the possible outcomes - just too unpredictable in this environment.

Stay tuned . . .

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