Breeders want Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider cockfighting ruling

Thursday, August 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Opponents of a proposal to ban cockfighting in Oklahoma asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to reconsider its decision not to disqualify itself from the case.

In the request, the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association said it had been denied a fair hearing.

In an earlier filing with the court, the group said it was denied due process of law because of the court's failure to provide procedures for disqualification of justices.

The association also argued that the procedure the court used in rejecting the gamefowl breeders' motion to disqualify Justice James Winchester denied the group due process.

Winchester's qualifications to hear the case were questioned because his wife, state Rep. Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, voted against a bill that some legislators said could affect the anti-cockfighting petition.

The group has implied that the justices are biased in favor of a cockfighting ban.

Proponents of the cockfighting ban proposal circulated an initiative petition in 1999.

The case has been tied up in court since the petition drive ended with the collection of 99,750 signatures of Oklahomans who said they wanted a statewide vote on the issue.

Opponents needed to get the Supreme Court to throw out 29,864 of the signatures to invalidate the initiative petition.

On Nov. 13, the Supreme Court issued an opinion saying the anti-cockfighting petition had enough valid signatures to be submitted to a vote of the people. The gamefowl breeders asked for a rehearing.

Last month, the court issued a second opinion, disqualifying 26,290 signatures _ not enough to invalidate the petition.

The gamefowl breeders association then filed a motion for another rehearing and asked the court to disqualify itself from the case.

The court only has ruled on the disqualification issue. The motion for rehearing the issues of the cockfighting case still is pending.