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Komorn Law Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against State Of Michigan


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Thursday Komorn Law filed an emergency injunction against the state of Michigan to protect the constitutional rights of voters in Michigan.




read the lawsuit





Two people who signed and circulated petitions for Michigan's recreational marijuana vote have filed a federal lawsuit meant to stop the printing of November ballots until the signatures are counted.


They argue Michigan voters should decide marijuana legalization.


The lawsuit, filed Thursday, Sept. 8, in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction against the Michigan Secretary of State and other defendants.

Read the lawsuit filing


"This action seeks one outcome-- to order defendants to not print any ballots until they canvass and count the petition signatures, including Plaintiffs', and if enough, to place the MI Legalize proposal on the ballot of the next general election..."


MI Legalize wants Michigan voters to decide on legalization of marijuana for people 21 and older.


The group turned in 354,000 signatures, more than the total needed to qualify, but rules making signatures older than 180 days void and stale blocked it from the ballot.



Plaintiffs Sean Michael Myers and Dakota Blue Serna are both registered voters and signed petitions more than 180 days before they were filed with the state.


The federal lawsuit argues that the reubttle presumption, the statute that says signatures older than 180 days are presumed to void, is unconstitutional, as well as its use.


"The 1986 Board of Canvassers policy to utilize the rebuttable presumption, which all parties acknowledge has never been utilized and is impossible for Plaintiff to comply with, is unconstitutional," the lawsuit reads.


It asks the court to expedite the lawsuit because of the election timeline, and with ballots being printed Friday, Sept. 9.


After MI Legalize turned in its 354,000 signatures, the legislature passed a law strictly enforcing the 180-day rule.


The federal suit argues there is still time for canvassing and the ballots to be printed with the marijuana ballot question included.


"Courts can rule expeditiously on elections cases, including ordering reprint of ballots," it states.


It comes on the heels of a court battle that just ended in Michigan, as attorneys appealed the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, both of which declined to hear arguments.


Attorney Jeffrey Hank, who represented MI Legalize in the state courts, said he is working on an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court with the same goal, of getting the signatures counted.



Michigan marijuana legalization vote U.S. Supreme Court filing in the works



Attorneys filing the federal lawsuit did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Bill Laitner | Detroit Free Press

4 hours ago


After a string of setbacks in state courts — including a refusal to hear their case by the Michigan Supreme Court earlier this week — marijuana activists turned to federal court as they continue battling to put a legalization question before Michigan voters this fall.



On Friday, lawyers with the MI Legalize group had Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and other state election officials served with their latest legal salvo, filed Thursday night in federal court in Flint. This latest motion requests a temporary restraining order, “to keep the state from printing ballots” while forcing state election officials to recount the group’s 354,000 petition signatures — all within three days, according to the filing.


“And if there’s enough signatures, they have to put our question on the ballot,” said Tom LaVigne of Grosse Pointe Park, a lawyer and board member of MI Legalize. The group needs slightly more than 252,000 signatures to be certified as coming from registered voters to qualify.


Johnson along with state Director of Elections Chris Thomas in June declared that “at least 200,000” of the petition signatures submitted by MI Legalize were “stale” because they’d been gathered outside a 180-day window that state election policy said was the maximum time period allowed. A series of court rulings upheld their decision and also upheld the 180-day limit for collecting signatures aimed at changing state law.



►Related:Law officers may seek Snyder veto of medical pot bill


►Related:Pot legalization group loses Michigan Supreme Court fight


But leaders of MI Legalize have repeatedly argued against the 180-day limit -- calling it arbitrary, unfair and unconstitutional -- in a their series of recent court filings, and also at hearings early this year, before both the Board of State Canvassers and a committee of state lawmakers. MI Legalize said it provided a sensible way for state election officials to prove that all of the group’s petition signatures were valid, coming from people registered to vote at their moment of signing, but state officials refuse to accept the means for validating the "stale" signatures -- using the state's own computer listings, called the Qualified Voter File, LaVigne said Friday.


Moreover, MI Legalize would like to see the “180-day window” simply tossed out because that would make it easier for any grassroots group to qualify its question for ballots, the group's chairman Jeff Hank said earlier this week. Otherwise, petition groups need “at least $2 million dollars on day one of your campaign” because they need a small army of professional circulators to collect enough signatures within the time limit, Hank said.


“By imposing this, they’re handing the first-amendment rights of all Michiganders to big money,” he said.


Yet, experts on state election law for months have said MI Legalize would not succeed this year, and some testified at hearings in Lansing against allowing any leeway in approving "stale" signatures. Others said MI Legalize took too long to raise campaign funds and hire professional petition circulators, relying on volunteers until it was too late to gather enough signatures within 180 days.



To get the measure on November ballots, the federal court likely would need to override deadlines for printing and distributing absentee ballots. Municipal clerks start getting their local ballots proofed and printed next week, and they are mailed to overseas military members around Sept. 24, according to the Bureau of Elections.


If the latest effort fails, Hank said he would file an appeal on First Amendment constitutional grounds with the U.S. Supreme Court, but then it would be 2018 at the earliest before the measure would get on state ballots, he said.


The ballot question calls for “taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol"; and it specifies that taxes would go toward state road repairs, education funding and local government coffers, according to the MI Legalize website. Leaders of MI Legalize have said they spent 18 months and more than $1 million in their petition campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.

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