- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lancaster County judge has rejected a lawsuit challenging the death-penalty question going to Nebraska voters in November, but has also prevented a pro-death penalty group from being part of another suit challenging ballot wording.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports (https://bit.ly/1nKtQZL ) that judge Lori Maret issued orders Friday dismissing the case brought by death penalty opponents Christy and Richard Hargesheimer. She also dismissed a motion by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty to intervene in another suit filed by attorney Lyle Koenig of Beatrice.

The Hargesheimers’ suit sought to keep Secretary of State John Gale from placing the question on the ballot. They said the process shouldn’t be valid because it failed to disclose Gov. Pete Ricketts as a sponsor.

The argument in their case largely came down to who qualifies as a sponsor of a petition, which isn’t defined in statutes.

The Hargesheimers’ attorney, Alan Peterson, argued that Ricketts should be included in the language because Nebraska law requires a sworn list of every person sponsoring a referendum.

Omaha attorney Steven Grasz, who represents Nebraskans for the Death Penalty in addition to Judy Glasburner, Aimee Melton and Bob Evnen, who are listed as petition sponsors, argued that sponsor refers to those who assume statutory responsibility for the referendum once the petition begins.

Maret said she was persuaded by the argument that Ricketts wasn’t required to be listed as a sponsor because Grasz’s clients said they were willing to assume the statutory responsibilities once the petition process commenced.

Koenig’s issue with the question had to do with the title and explanatory statement Gale chose to appear on the ballot.

Maret found that the group didn’t file the motion within the time allowed to challenge the decision on wording or provide an alternative.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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