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AZ Supreme Court will hear Pearce recall case

Senate President Russell Pearce (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The state’s highest court will hear a challenge to the recall election targeting Senate President Russell Pearce.

In a decision today, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on Sept. 13, instead of having it go through the Court of Appeals first.

Both sides of the lawsuit had asked the justices to transfer the case to the high court, arguing that a speedy decision was critical to give elections officials enough time to print ballots for the Nov. 8 recall.

Justices will tackle the case without oral arguments and a decision is expected the same day. An opinion outlining the court’s ruling would follow a few weeks later.

Pearce supporters filed a lawsuit to stop the recall, claiming that the petition sheets were invalid because they did not strictly comply with constitutional requirements, such as affirming in an oath that the signatures were “genuine.”

A trial court on Aug. 12 threw out the challenge, but Franklin Ross, an East Valley resident and Pearce supporter, appealed.

In asking for the transfer to the Supreme Court, the lawyers on both sides noted that the lawsuit must resolved by Sept. 23, which is the last date when ballot printing can begin without disenfranchising military and overseas voters.

Pearce is the first sitting legislator to face a recall.

Three candidates have jumped into the race challenging Pearce in the special election, including Republicans Jerry Lewis and Olivia Cortes, and Libertarian Michael Kielsky.

Lewis, a charter school executive with deep roots in the west Mesa District 18, is the only candidate who has submitted signatures to qualify for the ballot and is considered to be the frontrunner among the challengers.

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