Lawyer wants to know if justice should be disqualified in cockfighting case

Saturday, December 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A lawyer for opponents of an anti-cockfighting petition has asked to meet with an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to discuss whether the judge should be disqualified from the case.

In his letter to Justice James Winchester, attorney Larry Oliver sought a conference to determine if Winchester should recuse himself because his wife, state Rep. Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, voted against House Bill 1375 this past session

Some legislators believe House Bill 1375 could affect the anti-cockfighting petition, which the state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month had enough valid signatures to go to a statewide vote.

Oliver, who represents the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association, plans to ask the court for a rehearing of its ruling. Oliver's letter to Winchester was placed in the court file by the Supreme Court this week, but the court made no comment on it.

Oliver had no comment Friday.

HB 1375, a proposed constitutional amendment, was approved by the House and Senate in May.

The proposed constitutional amendment, scheduled for a statewide vote in November, would increase initiative petition requirements on animal issues, including cockfighting. Petitions would have to have 15 percent, instead of 8 percent, of the vote cast for the highest office in the last general election.

If approved, the measure would affect initiative petitions proposing to abolish activities related to hunting, fishing or other entertainment events involving livestock, fish and fowl.

Opponents of HB 1375 said it could affect the anti-cockfighting petition pending in the Supreme Court. But Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, author of HB 1375, disagreed.

Besides sending the letter to Winchester, Oliver also has filed a motion asking the Supreme Court for more time to prepare a petition seeking a rehearing of a Supreme Court ruling on cockfighting.

Oliver asked for more time because the Thanksgiving holiday fell during the 20-day period the group had to prepare its application for a rehearing.

The court gave Oliver until Dec. 26 to file the petition for a rehearing.