Judge recall effort hits bump in road

SALEM, Ore. (AP) ?” The effort to recall the judge who overturned Measure 37 may have to start from scratch because of a problem with petition sheets.

Tom Steffen, the leader of the bid to recall Marion County Judge Mary Mertens James, said thousands of signatures were on sheets printed without an identification number, violating a requirement of the Oregon Elections Division.

Steffen said his group hoped to announce Wednesday whether it will start over or continue with plans to submit signatures by the Jan. 24 deadline.

"It seems it’s just a technicality," Steffen told The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene. "But I would rather not wind up in court over a technicality, which is what I’m convinced will happen, given the opposition we have and the seriousness of what we’re trying to do."

The recall effort started after James ruled that Measure 37 was invalid. Under the measure, which voters passed in 2004, anyone whose property value was harmed by land use laws passed after he purchased the property is entitled to be paid for the loss or have the new regulations waived.

James said the law unfairly gives development rights to some that aren’t available to everyone, a violation of the equal-protection clause in the Oregon Constitution.

The Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday was scheduled to listen to arguments in an appeal of the James ruling.

Steffen said his group has been going through its paperwork to determine how many signatures were on sheets that may not meet legal standards.

He said the number of potentially disqualified signatures ran into the thousands, enough to potentially prevent the campaign from submitting the necessary 14,402 valid signatures.