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

This submit was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Electors filed a grievance for injunctive aid towards neighborhood organizations and numerous county officers difficult the validity of neighborhood 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 creating a medical marijuana cultivation facility , as permitted 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 Individuals (“RWP“)’s petition didn’t adjust to § 19-101(A)’s “easy directive to establish” the county measure at concern and the title of the measure being referred, quite than its whole textual content. The courtroom declined to carry that the presence of any surplus data on a referendum petition mechanically 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 data 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 concern because of the handle 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 concern of which involved ninety-three signatures with an handle on the referendum petition that didn’t match the signer’s handle within the voter registration data. The trial courtroom decided that Jones had failed to fulfill his preliminary burden as a result of the signers listed an handle that was presumably their “present residence handle,” no matter what handle that they had beforehand used when registering to vote. The second and third points involved seven duplicate signatures that had been collected by Leonard and a separate circulator. These signatures had been a part of the ten signatures the trial courtroom had disqualified beneath the preliminary movement for abstract judgment. RWP maintained that for the reason that 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 reply to RWP’s argument by his reply in help of his supplemental movement for abstract judgment, the courtroom declined to deem this argument waived. Primarily based 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 Individuals, 517 P.3d 1188 (AZ App. 8/25/2022)