Nevada County Superior Court judge prohibits printing Measure W ballots, sets Tuesday hearing for final decision
March 6, 2016
A Nevada County judge on Friday prohibited elections officials from printing ballots for Measure W, providing breathing space until a Tuesday hearing, when the larger issue of whether the ballot measure will reach voters is decided.
It's unclear if the decision by Superior Court Judge B. Scott Thomsen will have any effect on when local ballots are printed, as elections officials say that's weeks away.
Thomsen's ruling came during an emergency hearing in response to Forrest Hurd's court filing this week. Hurd, father of 8-year-old Silas, says medicinal marijuana helps his son's intractable epilepsy. He argues that the outdoor ban and 12-plant indoor limitation proposed in Measure W would make it impossible to get his son's medicine.
In his court filing, Hurd asks that Measure W be removed from the ballot, or, alternatively, amended to allow exemptions for outdoor marijuana grows.
A supervisor-imposed ban currently is in effect.
Thomsen's Friday decision focused only on the issue of printing the ballots. A decision on Measure W's fate is expected at the 8:30 a.m. Tuesday hearing at the Nevada County Courthouse. That decision could reach the Board of Supervisors before its regular Tuesday meeting has ended.
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The board on Tuesday is scheduled to formally call for the June 7 election.
Supervisor Dan Miller, board chairman, declined comment when contacted after Friday's hearing.
"A determination will ultimately be made on Tuesday," the judge said.
Hurd said after the court hearing that he was relieved.
"This is a very stressful situation for our family," he added. "We have a lot on the line.
"The weight of this decision is significant for this family and all the children whose lives depend on the outcome of this decision," Hurd added.
Attorney Heather Burke, who represents Hurd, argued that voters don't know what would happen if they turn down Measure W. The supervisor-imposed ban would remain in place if the measure fails, though supervisors have said they intend to overturn it in that case. It's that confusion that would hurt her client, she said. Burke then asked for an order stopping elections officials from printing any ballots until a judge could rule on Hurd's request to remove Measure W from the ballot.
"The ballots have not been printed," Burke said. "Let's keep it that way."
Scott McLeran, an attorney with the county, called Hurd's court filing flawed. He said there's no chance Hurd's argument would succeed. Additionally, McLeran argued that the elections office wouldn't begin printing ballots until at least March 18, making a temporary prohibition on printing them unnecessary.
According to Sandra Sjoberg, assistant county clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, her office must first design the ballot and undergo the proofreading process before printing begins, expected around April 1. All ballots must be proofread and printed by April 8, when the first set is sent to overseas and military voters.
"Currently we are not at the state of printing a ballot," she added.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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