AZ Appeals Courtroom Finds Real Challenge of Materials Truth Existed as to Validity of 93 Signatures on Referendum Petition

This submit was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Electors filed a criticism for injunctive aid in opposition to group organizations and varied county officers difficult the validity of group organizations’ referendum petition, which sought to incorporate poll query as as to if a portion of land ought to have been rezoned for the aim of building a medical marijuana cultivation facility , as accredited by the county board of supervisors. Following a bench trial and supplemental movement for abstract judgment, the Superior Courtroom, Graham County, denied electors’ request for injunctive aid.

On attraction, Jones first argued the trial courtroom dominated in dismissing his problem to the textual content of the referendum petition. Particularly, he claimed that Respect the Will of the Folks (“RWP“)’s petition didn’t adjust to § 19-101(A)’s “simple directive to determine” the county measure at problem and the title of the measure being referred, somewhat than its total textual content. The courtroom declined to carry that the presence of any surplus info on a referendum petition robotically negates strict compliance beneath § 19-101(A). Whereas the petition included the title of the rezoning request twice, in addition to your complete proposal, this extra info didn’t alter the that means and “doesn’t justify depriving Graham County voters of their alternative to be heard. Moreover, though the petition lacked the phrase “county measure,” it was clearly primarily based on the rest of the petition that what was at problem because of the tackle of the property and the involvement of the Graham County Board of Supervisors. Accordingly, the courtroom held that the type of a referendum petition should strictly adjust to § 19-101(A) and that RWP complied with the identical.

Jones subsequent argued that the trial courtroom erred in granting a post-trial judgment for RWP on the signature problem. The primary problem of which involved ninety-three signatures with an tackle on the referendum petition that didn’t match the signer’s tackle within the voter registration information. The trial courtroom decided that Jones had failed to satisfy his preliminary burden as a result of the signers listed an tackle that was presumably their “present residence tackle,” no matter what tackle that they had beforehand used when registering to vote. The second and third points involved seven duplicate signatures that have been collected by Leonard and a separate circulator. These signatures have been a part of the ten signatures the trial courtroom had disqualified beneath the preliminary movement for abstract judgment. RWP maintained that because the courtroom had invalidated the signatures on the Leonard petitions, the duplicate signatures, collected by a special circulator, shouldn’t be disqualified. The trial courtroom agreed with RWP, discovering that there was no authorized foundation for disqualifying the seven signatures after the Leonard petitions had been disqualified. Furthermore, as Jones was afforded a possibility to answer RWP’s argument via his reply in assist of his supplemental movement for abstract judgment, the courtroom declined to deem this argument waived. Based mostly on the aforementioned, the courtroom affirmed the trial courtroom’s denial of Jones’s request for injunctive aid, and permitted the referendum petition REF-02-2021 to be positioned on the November 2022 poll.

Jones v Respect the Will of the Folks, 517 P.3d 1188 (AZ App. 8/25/2022)

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