Albany County has four minority-dominated election districts, all within the city of Albany. Plaintiffs seek to force the county to create a fifth. ()

A judge has denied Albany County’s request to substitute an expert witness in an upcoming Voting Rights Act trial, questioning whether the expert’s professional obligations, rather than legitimate health concerns, are the cause of his withdrawal.

Northern District Judge Lawrence Kahn (See Profile) ruled Wednesday that the county failed to demonstrate good cause for the substitution, as a party must when such a change is made following the close of discovery.

The county moved to substitute Jamie Monogan for Ronald Keith Gaddie, who was expected to testify in Pope v. County of Albany, 11-cv-0736. The case seeks to force the county and its Board of Elections to create a fifth district in the 39-member county legislature in which minority residents form a majority of voters (NYLJ, Jan. 30).

While the county said doctors have advised Gaddie to cut his workload, Kahn wrote that it is “troubling” that Gaddie asked to be relieved of testifying after being elevated to the chairmanship of the political science department at the University of Oklahoma.

“It appears possible that rather than seeking relief from his expert testimony for medical reasons, Dr. Gaddie ‘has other work that he wishes to do instead of testifying here,’” Kahn wrote.

He said the testimony and cross-examination of experts is “especially impactful” in Voting Rights Act cases because of their reliance on statistical analyses. The county said both Gaddie and Monogan, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, have found similar evidence that biracial contests in Albany County are not polarized, meaning that votes by black and Hispanics are not homogenous enough to justify another “majority-minority” district.

Paul DerOhannesian II of Albany and Mitchell Karlan of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher are representing the plaintiffs. Peter Barber of Murphy, Burns, Barber & Murphy and the Albany County Attorney’s office are appearing for the county.