Judge gives Hidden Valley more time to state claim, find attorney in city lawsuit

CHARLOTTE — Hidden Valley residents will live to fight another day, but they danced awfully close to dismissal, with a federal judge advising them to state a claim and get an attorney.

Residents said it felt like a victory, but it is more like overtime in the Hidden Valley v. City of Charlotte lawsuit. Two Hidden Valley residents claim the city engaged in racial gerrymandering and voter dilution by moving their two precincts from District 4 to District 1. Those two major claims require precise arguments need to be made in the setting of federal court.

[ALSO READ: Charlotte City Council OKs redistricting map including Hidden Valley changes]

Citing no clarity in their claim, Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. advised the residents to get an attorney, and gave them 30 days to do so.

“We are still fighting,” plaintiff Charlene Henderson said. “We are still making our way to victory. It is important that we continue to stand up for communities that are marginalized so they have a voice.”

The city is seeking a dismissal and likely was surprised by the judge’s graciousness. The city’s attorneys argue that Hidden Valley’s claims are political and without evidence of racial gerrymandering.

[ALSO READ: Hidden Valley residents continue to improve neighborhood’s reputation]

After the hearing, redistricting Chair Malcolm Graham said everything was aboveboard and he is confident the city will prevail.

“We’ve done our job and we’ve done it correctly,” Graham said. “I applaud them for stepping up in their community, but in this case, there is no claim.”

The plaintiffs claim no attorneys had an interest in this case because they don’t want to battle the city. The judge was skeptical of that claim, saying there are plenty of civil rights lawyers who would love to take this on, if there is a legitimate argument.

(Watch below: Carolina Panther spends day teaching financial literacy to students at Hidden Valley Elementary)