For the third time this off-season I donned a shirt and tie and headed to court to watch the City of Glendale involved in a court hearing, with the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes potentially hanging in the balance. This time it was Save Glendale Now's appeal, they had previously had their petition rejected late last month. The three panel judge of Judge Gould, Judge Howe, and Judge Norris would be making the decisions this time, with Gary Birnbaum as the lawyer for the City of Glendale and Stephen Tully representing Save Glendale Now again.
more after the jump
Each side was given 30 minutes to state their cases, with SGN going to first and saving 5 minutes for their rebuttal. Their hearing initially went as planned, SGN continued to argue that the clerk did not have the power to reject the petition and that they only have the power to review petitions for things that are objectively wrong and not things are "subjectively wrong." The judges, specifically Gould and Howe, questioned Tully about both the clerks ability to review the signatures and the whether or not the language is indeed misleading. SGN wanted to focus more on the clerk and not their misleading statement.
The hearing took an interesting turn when the judges choose to ask questions about things that seemed to have been addressed in the initial case. The serial numbers in the name and the timeliness of the petitions being turned in were brought up by the judges. Again Judges Gould and Howe lead these questions and Tully did not seem to have prepared for these questions. It was pretty much a repeat of the original case, just sped up for time.
Birnbaum's case for the city first addressed the timeliness issue. Judge Norris lead the questions this time, and there was a circular argument about the city and state's responsibility regarding the election dates. Birnbaum actually admitted that the legislature may want to address the "black out" periods but that is not an issue for the courts. He even stated that the legislature has had numerous opportunities to review this but they have not. After these questions Judge Norris, who appeared to view things differently then the city, admitted that his answers were "responsive." This seemed to be a sign of begrudging respect, perhaps admitting the validity of his arguments.
The case Glendale was making was very much their case from their last trial, and why would they need to change they won their last case. It was mostly reiterating their facts as they see them, the Clerk has the right to review and reject petitions, the petition language is misleading, it shouldn't have been a referendum, and it was filed late. The court even allowed Birnbaum to go a little over on time, under a minute. I bring that point up because when SGN was going over, repeating the same thing they've said through the past two hearings, they cut him off.
Judge Gould thanked everyone present and said that he hoped to have a decision before tomorrow, so you can probably expect a final word tonight. Its still early but I think that Gould and Howe seemed to be on the side of the City of Glendale. Save Glendale Now did not really offer anything new while Birnbaum was able to answer Judge Norris' questions convincingly. Hopefully this will be the last court case of the off-season and the final hurdles on Glendale's end have been removed.