Supreme Court appoints special master in GA v. FL water dispute

11-21-14 LancasterThe U. S. Supreme Court has appointed Maine lawyer Robert I. Lancaster to oversee a water dispute between Florida and Georgia.

The Supreme Court earlier this month gave Florida permission to sue Georgia over water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. Florida Gov. Rick Scott blames Georgia for lack of freshwater flow that harms Apalachicola Bay and the seafood industry there while Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Florida refused his offer to settle the 24-year-old dispute.

Florida and Georgia have denied requests to review the offer and response under a 2010 confidentiality order for mediation issued by U. S. District Judge Paul Magnuson.

As special master, Lancaster has authority to direct proceedings, summon witnesses and issue subpoenas. The states will pay for Lancaster and his staff to oversee the case along with associated travel costs, according to the Supreme Court order issued Wednesday.

Lancaster, 84 and a 1955 graduate of Harvard Law School, previously served as special master in three other Supreme Court cases including a dispute between Maryland and Virginia over water flow in the Potomac River.

Lancaster also served as independent counsel by appointment of the DC Circuit to investigate allegations against then Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, according to the Pierce Atwood LLP web site. Lancaster also served as trial counsel for the United States in a dispute with Canada and argued before the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained from