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Edward Greim, Influential Lawyer: Emerged victorious in the battle of redistricting lines

By Scott Lauck of Missouri Lawyers Media

When political questions wind up in Missouri’s courts, it’s a good bet that one of the attorneys on the roster is Edward Greim.

Greim has become the go-to lawyer for Republicans in arguments over ballot issues, candidates and — in what became one of the biggest legal cases of 2012 — congressional redistricting.

“Missouri is very much in flux now about what kind of state we’re going to have,” Greim said. “It makes the lawsuits very interesting.”

The redistricting controversy began shortly after the 2010 census, when Missouri lost one of its nine seats in Congress. In a fiercely partisan fight, state lawmakers drew new districts for Missouri’s eight remaining representatives, quickly prompting court challenges.

Greim said he was surprised at the direction the legal challenges took. Initially, the suits argued that the congressional map was gerrymandered to favor incumbents, particularly Republicans. But the Missouri Supreme Court focused on a clause in the Missouri Constitution that requires legislative districts to be as ‘compact as may be.’

Missouri’s map featured several oddly shaped districts, including one surrounding Kansas City that was said to resemble a ‘dead lizard.’

The compactness issue pitted two visions of the role of the court against each other: Should the judges defer to the judgment of the Legislature on an unquestionably political matter? Or should they give meaning to the language of the state’s constitution?

Compactness, Greim argued, ‘has a definite meaning, but it’s a very permissive meaning.’ That was ultimately the argument that won; in May, the Supreme Court upheld the new districts by a 4-3 vote. As a result, the map Greim defended will be in effect through the next census in 2020.

Redistricting was hardly Greim’s first foray into a politically charged court challenge. He has been involved in many high-profile challenges to ballot issues, including an attempt to rewrite an allegedly biased ballot summary for last November’s proposed change to the Nonpartisan Court Plan. (Greim lost that fight, prompting the amendment’s supporters to drop their campaign before it had even begun.)

Greim also represented failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence in a short-lived defamation suit against Gov. Jay Nixon. (The suit, which focused on allegations in some of Nixon’s campaign ads, was dropped shortly after the election.)

Greim, a native of Excelsior Springs, is a 2002 graduate of Harvard Law School. He worked for several years in Bryan Cave’s New York office, but when he and his wife started a family they returned to Missouri, and Greim found a home at the boutique firm Graves Bartle Marcus & Garrett in Kansas City. (His wife, Claudia Onate Greim, is an attorney with The Ashcroft Group, located on the same floor.)

Greim’s firm is home to several prominent Republicans, including former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves and former state Sen. Matt Bartle. Nonetheless, Greim’s work isn’t completely, or even primarily, political. His real bread and butter is complex commercial litigation, where the fate of businesses and the people who run them hangs.

“The reason I’d never be anything other than a lawyer is I love doing that,” he said. “I just can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Still, when the next election season rolls around, don’t be surprised to see Greim back in the courtroom, making arguments with a conservative twist.

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