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SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge will allow the Utah Republican Party's attorney to stay on in its lawsuit against the state, but it must find another lawyer to help manage the case.
U.S. District Judge David Nuffer threatened to remove Marcus Mumford from the case last week for consistently missing court-imposed deadlines to file and respond to motions.
On Thursday, the judge ordered the Utah GOP to provide a new attorney who does not belong to Mumford's firm within seven days of his ruling on pending summary judgement motions. Nuffer wrote that the measure is not punitive but remedial to help Mumford meet future deadlines.
Mumford may remain as an attorney of record, but because of his "inability to manage deadlines and because of his repeated failure to comply with court orders," another lawyer must appear at court hearings, the judge wrote.
Nuffer noted that the deadlines were set on a shortened schedule in February due to the unique circumstances in the case. The Republican Party sued the state over changes the Utah Legislature made to how political parties choose candidates for elected office.
There is a potential that the bill, SB54, or provisions of it could be found unconstitutional, the judge wrote.
"If so, such a decision needs to be rendered before the next legislative session in Utah. Otherwise, there is a risk that elections held in 2016 will be interrupted, litigated or invalidated," Nuffer wrote.
The Legislature convenes in general session in January.