Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
On August 16, 2013, Judge James E. Marner ruled in the case of Yolanda Parker et al. v. City of Tucson et. al. (C20134029), the lawsuit to challenge the sufficiency of the initiative petitions filed by the Committee for Sustainable Retirement, the local front group for ballot initiative activist Paul Jacob and the Liberty Initiative Fund. You can read the 13 page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law ruling Here (.pdf).
Judge Marner disqualified a large number of signatures. The Tucson City Clerk was ordered to remove invalid petition sheets and to recalculate the number of signatures eligible for verification and submit the appropriate number of signatures in the form of random sample to the Pima County Recorder's Office by no later than August 23, 2013. Upon receipt of the newly calculated error rate, the Tucson City Clerk was to recalculate the projected number of valid signatures as mandated by A.R.S. §19-121.01 and certify the initiatve as either qualified or disqualified to appear on the ballot.
Counsel for the Committee for Sustainable Retirement, Lisa Hauser, filed a Motion For Stay and Motion For Reconsideration on August 22, 2013. You can read the motion Here.
A hearing of the Motion for Reconsideration was scheduled for Wednesday, August 28, 2013. The Court further ordered "that counsel for the City of Tucson contact counsel for the Pima County Recorder's Office to determine the Recorder's position on recalcualting an error rate, and if the Recorder intends to recalculate the error rate, when this is expected to occur. The Recorder is also to appear at the hearing."
Counsel for the parties appeared telephonically at the August 28, 2013 hearing. Counsel for the City of Tucson advised the Court that "based upon this Court's August 16, 2013 ruling, it is the city's calculation at this point that 5,651 is the number of remaining valid signatures after substracting the signatures disqualified by this Court." See the August 28, 2013 Minute Entry Order.
The Arizona Daily Star, in an online article, reported that "the City Clerk’s Office determined a total of 5,651 signatures were invalidated by Marner’s earlier ruling." Pension dispute almost settled today. The Star also reported:
If the same percentages were applied from the previous random sample, said plaintiff’s attorney Roopali Desai, the initiative would have around 500 more signatures than the minimum 12,730 required to make it on the ballot.
Since it appeared the initiative is likely to have a sufficient number of signatures, Desai said, the plaintiffs were willing to drop their appeal and let the initiative move forward.
I would take this to mean the plaintiffs challenging the initiative are conceding that after recalculation of valid signatures by the County Recorder the initiative will have a sufficient number of signatures to be certified for the ballot. (This was not reflected in the Minute Entry Order).
But the parties to this lawuit complicated matters by filing an appeal and cross-appeal to the Court of Appeals in the interim (Case. No. 2 CA-CV 2013-0118). As Judge Marner indicated in his August 28, 2013 Minute Entry Order, this divested the Superior Court of jurisdiction until the parties withdraw their appeals.
Here is the latest from the Court of Appeals. On August 28, 2013, pursuant to the plaintiff's Stipulation for Dismissal of Cross-Appeal Without Prejudice, it was "ORDERED: The above-entitled cross-appeal is dismissed, without prejudice." That same day Lisa Hauser, counsel for Appellants, filed a Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction During Pendency of Appeal.
On August 29, 2013, Appellee's Counsel filed a Response to Appellant's Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction During Pendency of Appeal. The Court of Appeals conducted a stay conference that same day, and ORDERED:
Appellant’s Motion to Stay is held in abeyance subject to the following orders. FURTHER ORDERED: Staying this appeal and revesting jurisdiction in the trial court to conduct any and all further proceedings necessary to enter a final appealable order regarding the legal sufficiency of the initiative “as soon as possible” pursuant to the provisions of A.R.S. § 19-122(c), which shall include authority to vacate the court’s injunction entered August 16, 2013. FURTHER ORDERED: In the event the trial court has not entered a final appealable order as noted above by 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 3, 2013, jurisdiction shall be revested with this court. FURTHER ORDERED: Vacating the Rule 8.1 Scheduling Conference scheduled this date. FURTHER ORDERED: The parties are directed to provide a status report on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.
So, the Court of Appeals has sent this case back to Judge Marner, who will likely enter a final order on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 (because Monday is Labor Day). It is not on the calendar. It appears the parties may stipulate that the initiative to bankrupt the City of Tucson (Prop. 201) has enough valid signatures to be certified for the ballot. Stay tuned.