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Heavy hitters involved in suits challenging court plan ballot measure

Kelly Wiese//September 15, 2009//

Heavy hitters involved in suits challenging court plan ballot measure

Kelly Wiese//September 15, 2009//

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Two legal challenges now have been filed on a ballot measure that would overhaul how Missouri selects its appellate judges, and heavy hitters from both political parties are involved.

Former Supreme Court Judges Edward “Chip” Robertson, a Republican appointee, and Ronnie White, a Democratic appointee, are among the attorneys handling one suit. The others are Alex Bartlett and Chuck Hatfield.

That challenge lists former state senators Roseann Bentley, a Springfield Republican, and John Schneider, a St. Louis County Democrat, as plaintiffs.

Former Democratic Sen. Harold Caskey brought the other lawsuit, and his attorneys are Heidi Vollet and Dale Doerhoff, a former Missouri Bar president.

The proposed constitutional amendment would move Missouri to a federal model, with direct appointment by the governor and confirmation by the state Senate.

The suit by Bentley and Schneider challenges the legal form of the petition. Basically, it argues that the secretary of state should never have reached the point of writing a summary statement because the proposal didn’t meet the statutory and constitutional requirements in its wording and format.

The suit also claims Greene County isn’t properly accounted for. Greene County voters last year decided to adopt the Nonpartisan Court Plan for their area. Under today’s constitution, the suit claims, Greene County’s process isn’t supposed to change again until at least 2012.

Caskey’s suit largely challenges the estimated cost included in the ballot summary. The suit says that because the state Senate didn’t provide information to the state auditor, the figure is too low. The suit argues the Senate likely would need more staff to review judicial nominees and could need to meet outside of regular session.

Read more on this story in Wednesday’s papers.

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