COL. MIKE ROSS, RET.; MARION HUMPHREY; JAMES BROOKS; PATRICK ADAM JEGLEY; MARTHA DEAVER; AND THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT AR FAMILIES PETITIONERS
MARK MARTIN, ARKANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE RESPONDENT CHASE DUGGER AND DR. STEPHEN CANON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HEALTH CARE ACCESS FOR ARKANSANS INTERVENORS
G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks; James,
Carter & Priebe, LLP, by: Jeff Priebe; and Walas Law
Firm, PLLC, by: Breean Walas, for petitioners.
Kelly, Deputy Secretary of State & General Counsel, and
Andrés Rhodes, Associate General Counsel, for
Rock LLP, by: Jess Askew III, David L. Williams, Frederick H.
Davis, and Dale W. Brown (Fayetteville); and Brett D. Watson,
Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for intervenors.
PREVIOUSLY GRANTED; COUNTS I & II MOOT.
JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Associate Justice
the second part of a bifurcated case concerning a proposed
amendment to the Arkansas Constitution with the popular name:
"An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and
Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits." As noted in
Ross v. Martin, 2016 Ark. 340, petitioners Col. Mike
Ross, Marion Humphrey, James Brooks, Patrick Adam Jegley,
Martha Deaver, and the Committee to Protect AR Families filed
an original action in this court pursuant to article 5,
section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution, as amended by
amendment 7 to the Arkansas Constitution, for an order to
invalidate a proposed initiated constitutional amendment (the
amendment), either by striking it from the ballot or by
enjoining the counting of the votes. The petition asserted
three bases for relief: (I) the sponsors failed to comply
with mandatory canvasser certification laws; (II) the
sponsors failed to submit the requisite number of verified
signatures; and (III) the amendment's ballot title is
insufficient. On September 9, 2016, we granted a motion to
bifurcate this case and appointed a special master to make
findings on counts I and II. We allowed count III, which
challenged the sufficiency of the ballot title, to be
submitted directly because sufficiency of the ballot title is
decided by this court as a matter of law. Cox v.
Daniels, 374 Ark. 437, 288 S.W.3d 591 (2008). This
opinion addresses counts I and II.
court has original jurisdiction of this case pursuant to Ark.
Sup. Ct. R. 6-5(a) (2016); see Richardson v. Martin,
2014 Ark. 429, 444 S.W.3d 855. Rule 6-5(a) provides that this
court has original jurisdiction in "extraordinary
actions required by law, such as suits attacking the validity
of statewide petitions filed under amendment 7 of the
Arkansas Constitution." Id., 444 S.W.3d 855.
of 84, 859 signatures are required to place the amendment on
the ballot for the November 8, 2016 general election. The
sponsors of the amendment submitted 131, 687 signatures to
the secretary of state. The secretary of state determined
that there were 93, 102 valid signatures. After bifurcation,
counts I and II required factual development. We appointed
Judge J.W. Looney as special master to make findings on the
taking testimony and viewing exhibits, the special master
submitted a written report. The report's summary and
conclusion stated as follows:
1. The failure of the Sponsor to certify to Respondent
Secretary that criminal background checks had been completed
on each paid canvasser as required by A.C.A.§
7-9-601(b)(3) could be a material defect and disallow the
counting of all signatures under A.C.A. § 7-9-601(b)(5)
which is a "do not count" instruction."
2. Solicitation of signatures by paid canvassers before their
names were submitted to the Respondent Secretary resulted in
1825 signatures that should not be counted under A.C.A.
3. The failure of the sponsor to maintain statements of
eligibility on 6 canvassers as required by A.C.A. §
7-9-601(e) would disallow 47 signatures.
4. If the uses of third party criminal background reports by
the Sponsor and its agent are considered a violation of
A.C.A. § 7-9-601(b)(1) then 10, ...