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New Approach Missouri asks judge to dismiss lawsuit alleging unlawful signature collection method

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — New Approach Missouri wants a Cole County judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging unlawful signature collection practices for an initiative petition set to appear on the November ballot.

Springfield attorney and doctor Brad Bradshaw — who has sponsored and funded one of the three medical marijuana questions on the general election ballot — is suing to invalidate Amendment 2 and prevent the measure from going to the voters.

In the lawsuit against question put forth by New Approach Missouri, Bradshaw claims the group  “ran an intentional, systematic, pervasive, and ubiquitous pattern of instructing individuals to violate the legal requirements of the petition signature gathering process.”

Bradshaw is arguing that thousands of signatures were collected without a petition circulator present and in a variety of other unlawful ways. For an example, he claims that New Approach Missouri placed the petition in retail establishments. Under Missouri law, the circulator of the petition, in the presence of a notary, must sign an affidavit of each page with collected signatures.

A hearing in the case was held Thursday afternoon.

Heidi Vollet, the attorney for New Approach Missouri, is arguing for the lawsuit to be dismissed. The stance argued is that it is irrelevant how the signatures were collected because they were certified by the Secretary of State.

The motion states that Bradshaw has, “failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted…” because he is not challenging the validity of the signatures, just how they were collected.

The argument made by New Approach Missouri is that even if the claims made by Bradshaw were true it doesn’t matter because the signatures were validated and met the necessary requirements.

The motion cites a 1978 case that said that statutory factors “have a role in the initiative petition validation process, but they are not the ultimate determining factors. The validity of the signatures is the heard of the ultimate determination.”

James Meadows, who is representing Bradshaw, disagrees with the assessment. He argued in court that statutes have been updated recently and this case is different from the other cases New Approach Missouri cited.

In the cases referenced in the motion to dismiss, the instances of signature collection violations were limited and on a very small scale. In contrast, Meadows calls the unlawful signatures collection process “widespread.”

Should the motion to dismiss be denied, Meadows would like to take depositions from multiple signature collectors and notaries. He said by doing so, it would eliminate the need for witnesses at trial.