No, I'm not going to predict the decision, but if I were the judge I would release the decision next Monday, February 6. Here's why.
[UPDATE Sat. February 4: But I'm not the judge and he released his decision yesterday (Friday). Despite the Friday release, the Board won't meet until Tuesday at 10 according to their website. See Feb. 3.]
At the end of the trial he said he'd have it out by the first Monday in February. That's Monday, February 6. The Board's attorney requested a Friday release because the board needs to give 48 hours notice for a public meeting.
Since that day the Board has posted tentative daily meetings starting last Monday and going through Feb. 10. (And each meeting has been cancelled the day before.)
So it seems they have found a way around the 48 hour notice and the need for a Friday decision, even if the Judge were inclined to make one, is gone. (They've cancelled each of the tentative meetings including tomorrow's.)
So, if I were the judge, I'd take advantage of the weekend to review my decision and the mountain of evidence it's based on.
As a blogger, I generally check my posts multiple times before posting. If there are only pictures and just a few words I can do it faster. If it's a longer, more disputed topic, I'll take much longer. I do this for several basic reasons:
1. Just being typographically and grammatically correct is a way of letting my readers know that I'm careful and they might have more confidence in the content as well. Despite this goal, when I look back at old posts, I tend to be dismayed at how many errors slip through.
2. The more clearly I write, the more readers are likely to take from my words the meaning I intended. But people's mental filters are so varied that this is never 100% foolproof. (As I typed that word I wondered about the etymology. I don't mean to imply that if people can't understand what I write they're fools. I know that's not the case.)
3. If it's a particularly contentious topic, I want to be as objective and accurate as possible so as to keep the discussion on track and avoid unnecessary noise.
Judge McConahy, I assume, has staff to check on typos and even do research and possibly drafts of sections of his decision.
He knows that this is a decision that will be read carefully by both the plaintiffs and the defendants and most probably the Supreme Court.
The Board will definitely appeal if the ruling doesn't favor their position.
And since the Plaintiffs know that, they must be prepared to go to the Supreme Court as well. I would assume then that if they lose in Fairbanks, they too are prepared to appeal.
So, if I were Judge McConahy, I would hold this as long as I could. Whatever he writes will be carefully scrutinized. Even if I were done on Friday, I'd want the weekend to reread it, go back through the voluminous pre-trial submissions as well as the testimony in court. I'd be checking to see if I missed an important point that supported one argument or another. If there were inconsistencies in the testimony that I'd missed. If there were clues that would help me decide if witnesses were forthcoming or not. And if they were, whether their judgment could be trusted.
And since the Judge committed to getting his decision out by the first Monday of February, I'm guessing he will, unless he finds something so important at the last minute that requires he rethink the case.
So I'm guessing the decision will be released on Monday and that Monday afternoon Board will not cancel its Tuesday meeting.
There is some urgency here. There are less than five months between now and the June 1 filing deadline for candidates in the Alaska 2012 state primary election. If the judge's decision requires changes in the district maps and the Supreme Court agrees - those changes have to be made and approved before June 1, 2012. The clock is ticking.
A quick trial trivia note: The judge and both attorneys share the first name - Michael.