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Initiatives, Referenda, and Recalls

Remcho, Johansen & Purcell is extensively involved in state and local ballot measures, referenda, and recalls.  Our attorneys draft measures, defend them in court when necessary, and challenge ballot measures that our clients oppose in both pre- and post-election litigation.

This comprehensive experience gives our attorneys unique insight into the potential legal vulnerabilities inherent within ballot measures.  Our familiarity with the arguments, strategies, and case law regarding pre- and post-election challenges allows Remcho, Johansen & Purcell to provide a thorough analysis of the risks and benefits of various approaches.

At Remcho, Johansen & Purcell we are committed to supporting our clients with the many issues that arise during a ballot measure campaign.  These include assisting in the formation of ballot measure committees and qualifying those committees as tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.

Our attorneys also advise committees on campaign activities, including campaign reporting, advertising review and disclosures, and candidate or officeholder involvement with the campaign.

And finally, if electoral disputes arise in the wake of an election, Remcho, Johansen & Purcell takes all the necessary steps to challenge or defend election results.

Representative highlights of this work include:

  • Represented proponents of Proposition 47 (2014), which changed certain nonserious, nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
  • Represented supporters of Measure D (2014), which imposed the first-in-the-nation tax on the distribution of sugary drinks in the City of Berkeley.
  • McDonough v. Superior Court, 204 Cal. App. 4th 1169 (2012); Constant v. Hawkins, Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. 1-12-CV-221239 (2012).
    Represented opponents of the City of San Jose’s Measure B in successful ballot pamphlet litigation upholding their ballot pamphlet arguments against Measure B, and striking partisan and prejudicial portions of the City’s ballot title and question.
  • Williams v. City of Alameda, Alameda County Superior Court, Case No. RG12622649 (2012).
    Won a court order upholding the ballot pamphlet title, summary, and statement in favor of the City of Alameda’s Measure C for the June 2012 election.
  • Dillman v. Bowen, Sacramento County Superior Court, Case No. 34-2012-80001093 (2012).
    Successfully defended Congressional candidate José Hernandez’s use of the ballot designation “Astronaut/Scientist/Engineer” for the 2012 election.
  • Yes on 25, Citizens for an On-Time Budget v. Superior Court, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1445 (2010).
    Represented the ballot measure committee in defense of title and summary for majority vote budget measure.
  • Involved in recent reform efforts in California, working with California Forward to draft various reform measures, such as the On-Time Budget Act of 2010, the Best Practices Budget Accountability Act of 2010 and the Community Funding Protection and Accountability Act of 2010.
  • Drafted various education-related initiatives for the California Teachers Association and advised the Association on many other initiatives in election cycles over the years, including Propositions 1A (State Budget Rainy Day Fund) and 1B (Education Funding Payment Plan) (2009), Proposition 75 (Political Use of Union Dues) (2005), Proposition 56 (the Budget Accountability Act) (2004), Proposition 39 (Majority Vote for School Bonds) (2000), Proposition 26 (Majority Vote for School Bonds) (2000), and Proposition 98 (1988).
  • Represented the Consumer Attorneys of California in drafting consumer protection initiatives and opposing measures that would limit consumer protections, including Proposition 213 (uninsured drivers) and Proposition 64 (unfair business practices).  This work includes legal challenges to initiatives such as Proposition 213 (prohibiting damages in certain car accidents).  Hodges v. Superior Court, 21 Cal. 4th 109 (1999); Horwich v. Superior Court, 21 Cal. 4th 272 (1999); Quackenbush v. Superior Court, 60 Cal. App. 4th 454 (1997).
  • Advised the City of Redwood City concerning a 2008 land use initiative.
  • Drafted Proposition 87 (2006), which would have imposed an oil severance tax to fund clean energy programs in California, and Proposition 82 (2006), which would have guaranteed children free, universal access to quality preschool education in California.
  • Drafted several measures regarding term limits, including Proposition 93 (2008).
  • Friends of Bay Meadows v. City of San Mateo, 157 Cal. App. 4th 1175 (2007).
    Defended trial court victories on behalf of private landowner in election law issue of first impression.  Court upheld city's decision to disqualify invalid signatures on referendum petition.
  • Lindelli v. Town of San Anselmo, 139 Cal. App. 4th 1499 (2006).
    Successfully challenged a franchise agreement in violation of the prohibition against passing legislation similar to a law that is the subject of a referendum.
  • Lead counsel in two successful single-subject challenges to statewide measures, Senate of the State of California v. Jones, 21 Cal. 4th 1142 (1999) and California Trial Lawyers Association v. Eu, 200 Cal. App. 3d 351 (1988).  The firm has also litigated the following single-subject cases: Californians for an Open Primary v. McPherson, 38 Cal. 4th 735 (2006), Legislature v. Eu, 54 Cal. 3d 492 (1991), California Association of Retail Tobacconists v. State, 109 Cal. App. 4th 792 (2003), Citizens for Jobs and the Economy v. County of Orange, 94 Cal. App. 4th 1311 (2002) and Insurance Industry Initiative Campaign Committee v. Eu, 203 Cal. App. 3d 961 (1988).
  • Successfully defended numerous measures against pre-election challenges, including Proposition 80 (energy reregulation) (2005), Proposition 79 (prescription drugs) (2005), and Proposition 9 (energy deregulation) (1998).
  • Assisted in drafting Proposition 71 (2004), which created the State's $3 billion stem cell program, and successfully defended the measure against legal challenges.
  • Drafted Proposition 10 (1998), the California Children and Families Initiative, and successfully defended the measure against legal challenges.
* The results described above were dependent on the facts of that particular case.  Prior results do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes.