Writ filed against Measure W

NEVADA CITY, Calif. February 29, 2016 – Today, Attorney Heather Burke filed a writ on behalf of Forrest Hurd challenging Measure W. Today is the first day of the 10-day public examination period of the proposed ballot measure. The arguments in favor and opposed to Measure W, as well as rebuttals to the arguments are now available. The impartial analysis of the ballot measure, written by County Counsel, is also available here.

Burke’s writ asks the court to “Petitioner seeks a Peremptory Writ of Mandate from this Honorable Court directing respondents County of Nevada and Gregory Diaz, Elections Official, to delete the ballot statement regarding “Measure W” on the ballot for June 7, 2016, or alternatively to amend the same. As set forth in this Verified Petition, the ballot summary is confusing, misleading, and contains significant untruths, in violation of Elections Code § 9105. Moreover, the summary does not conform to Elections Code § 13119 in that the language fails to state the nature of the ordinance.”

Forrest Hurd on the courthouse steps. Photo: YubaNet

Forrest Hurd spoke to YubaNet outside the Nevada County Superior Court while Burke was filing the writ.  His concern is foremost for his son Silas who suffers from intractable seizures. Hurd wants the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to carve out an exception for sick children like his son. Alternatively, he would like to see a separate ordinance dealing with medicinal marijuana. Hurd’s son Silas was present while he spoke to the media. According to Burke, “Silas had a seizure moments after leaving the courthouse steps,” adding to the vivid description Hurd gave of his son’s ailment.

As of today, Hurd’s calls and emails to the BOS have gone unanswered, “They talked to me during the meeting and said they understood, but now that there are no meetings, we have gotten no response back from them.”

At the last BOS meeting many people spoke on his son’s behalf and pleaded with the BOS to change the ballot measure and the ordinance. The Hurd family was at UCSF, attempting to make contingency plans in case the ban is upheld and the medicine runs out. Hurd stated Silas is not enrolled in any kind of trial, neither at UCSF or elsewhere.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Sandy Sjoberg could not comment on the writ, saying she hadn’t seen the document yet. Sjoberg stated the ballots will go to both the Election Office’s outside printer and Hart Election Systems for ballot layout at the latest on March 15th. The candidate filing deadline for all offices runs until March 11, with 5 additional days if an incumbent decides not to run. This appears to be the case in District 1 where Nate Beason has previously stated he would not seek re-election.  With the timetable set,  any changes to the ballot have to occur between today and March 15 at the latest, leaving only a narrow window for any legal action.

The writ filed today is only the first step in the legal process. Burke intends to file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with the Court tomorrow, enjoining the County from printing any ballots with the current language. The writ, while considered a civil emergency matter, is not scheduled to be heard by the court until June 20 – too late for the June 7 election. A TRO serves to expedite the request, according to Burke.