Redistricting attorney resigns as panel nears completion of final report

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The general counsel for Michigan's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday to the 13-member panel she'd worked with for about a year, an abrupt resignation that surprised many on the commission. 

In a brief letter, Julianne Pastula told members that she would be resigning effective Feb. 25 and that Wednesday's message would serve as her 30-day written notice. 

"Her resignation came as a surprise to the commission when they were notified today at 4:46 p.m. (Wednesday)," said Edward Woods, a spokesman for the commission.

Commissioner Julianne Pastula at the first local meeting of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission at the Dearborn Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, Mich. on June 3, 2021.

Pastula, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment, had at times clashed with lawyers on the commission, Chairwoman Rebecca Szetela and Commissioner Steve Lett, who at one point proposed an oversight committee be formed to keep an eye on the work of the commission's hired counsel.

It's not clear to what extent Pastula's position will be filled. 

The commission finished adopting its maps in December and is in the process of completing its final report, after which the commission will only be called on to respond to legal challenges to the maps over the next 10 years. The commission has separate litigation counsel to respond to those challenges. 

The commission is facing two separate lawsuits in state and federal court. On Wednesday, the commission's attorneys defended the maps before the Michigan Supreme Court. 

In a Tuesday memo to commissioners, Pastula said it is not uncommon for a redistricting lawsuit to be filed five to six years out from when a plan is adopted so the commission should have protocol for how to reconvene. 

Pastula previously served in various roles in the city of Detroit, including in the city's municipal, ethics, and research and analysis divisions.