Global Freedom of Expression

Bainter v. League of Women Voters

Closed Expands Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    November 13, 2014
  • Outcome
    Access to Information Granted, Law or Action Upheld, Injunction or Order Granted
  • Case Number
    150 So.3d 1115
  • Region & Country
    United States, North America
  • Judicial Body
    Appellate Court
  • Type of Law
    Civil Law, Constitutional Law
  • Themes
    Access to Public Information, Political Expression, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
  • Tags
    Civil Society Organizations, Elections, Public Officials, Data Protection and Retention, Judiciary (protection of) / Contempt of Court

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

The Supreme Court of Florida ordered the production of 358 pages of documents subpoenaed in a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Florida Legislature’s 2012 redistricting plan.


Several voting rights groups, led by the League of Women Voters, filed a lawsuit in 2012 alleging that the Republican-dominated legislature had drawn a congressional map that favored incumbents.

Republican political consultant, Pat Bainter, battled against these groups in an effort to keep 538 pages of relevant documents private, first delaying production then asserting qualified privilege. The requested documents included any emails Bainter had sent or received regarding the redistricting process. The trial court ordered the production of the subpoenaed documents.

Decision Overview

Pariente, J., delivered the opinion of the Court. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the trial court’s ruling. It reached this decision after a detailed examination of the record regarding the litigation of the discovery issue, which the Court believed demonstrated the inexcusable delay by Bainter and his political consulting firm, Data Targeting, Inc., in asserting qualified privilege.

The Court’s holding of waiver was based on all of the circumstances in the case and not one particular factor. The relevant circumstances included Bainter’s failure to file a motion for a protective order or to raise any legal objection to producing the documents when served with a subpoena duces tecum that included within its scope the disputed documents. Bainter then attended a deposition, where he affirmatively testified under oath that he had conducted “a thorough search” for documents in response to the subpoena and had produced
what he found.

After being served with additional subpoenas duces tecum (which had the disputed documents within their scope), Bainter did not raise any claim of First Amendment privilege during six months of hearings and filings regarding the document production until the day after the trial court held his party in contempt of court and ordered it to pay attorney’s fees for failing to produce the documents. It wasn’t until this incident that the words “First Amendment” appeared for the first time in a filing or a hearing transcript in the trial court. Accordingly, the Court found that Bainter had waited too long before asserting his First Amendment rights.

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Expands Expression

The decision had a net effect of expanding expression because it granted the League of Women Voters of Florida access to the discovery documents that could aid it in its constitutional challenge of the Florida Legislature’s redistricting of the state. Bainter may have prevailed in keeping the documents private had he not waived the ability to assert his First Amendment rights with unnecessary delay.

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • U.S., League of Women Voters v. Data Targeting, Inc., 140 So. 3d 510 (Fla. 2014)
  • U.S., Scipio v. State, 928 So. 2d 1138 (Fla. 2006)
  • U.S., Binger v. King Pest Control, 401 So. 2d 1310 (Fla. 1981)
  • U.S., Barron v. Fla. Freedom Newspapers, Inc., 401 So. 2d 113 (Fla. 1988)
  • U.S., Data Targeting, Inc. v. League of Women Voters, 116 So. 3d 1266 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013)
  • U.S., Non-Parties v. League of Women Voters, 150 So. 3d 221 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2014)
  • U.S., Powell v. State, 120 So. 3d 577 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013)
  • U.S., Century Bus. Credit Corp. v. Fitness Innovations & Techs., Inc., 906 So. 3d 1156 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005)
  • U.S., Kaye Scholer LLP v. Zalis, 878 So. 2d 447 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004)
  • U.S., Hoyas v. State, 456 So. 2d 1225 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1984)
  • U.S., Int’l Tel. & Tel. Corp. v. United Tel. Co., 60 F.R.D. 177 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1973)
  • U.S., Gross v. Sec. Trust Co., 462 So. 2d 580 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1985)
  • U.S., Dodson v. Persell, 390 So. 2d 704 (Fla. 1980)
  • U.S., Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Lease Am., Inc., 735 So. 2d 560 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1999)
  • U.S., Bensonhurst Drywall, Inc. v. Ledesma, 583 So. 2d 1094 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991)
  • U.S., Am. Express Travel Related Servs., Inc. v. Cruz, 761 So. 2d 1206 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000)
  • U.S., Health Care Mgmt. Consulting, Inc. v. McCombes, 661 So. 2d 1223 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1995)

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Florida Supreme Court cases are binding on lower courts within the state of Florida.

Official Case Documents

Official Case Documents:

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:

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