Attorneys for Tempe bar owners spent two days in court this week fending off allegations that thousands of signatures collected to challenge Tempe’s smoking ban were illegally gathered.
Clean-air activists have pointed out several cases of potential forgery or fraud in the petitions, and have asked a judge to strike thousands of names, especially those gathered by paid collectors Ed Stanton and Kim Dixon.
However, Lisa Hauser, an attorney for the Citizens for Fair Non-Smoking Laws, said there’s not enough evidence that all of the signatures gathered by those two circulators were fraudulent.
"They have fallen way short of the mark in getting entire circulators thrown out," she said.
On Thursday, Andrew Chavez, managing partner for AZ Petition Partners, testified that his company was paid to gather about 17,000 of the more than 20,000 signatures that put the issue on the March 2004 ballot.
He testified he had several "quality control" methods in place to monitor collectors who were paid $1 for each signature they obtained.
He sent out three people to monitor signature collectors on the street, and crossed out illegible or suspicious names, he said.
Stanton, who collected 1,212 signatures in the Tempe drive, has gathered about 10,000 signatures for various initiative drives in the past two years, Chavez said.
"He’s one of the best circulators I have in terms of validity," Chavez said.
Witnesses have testified that Stanton signed petitions saying he witnessed their signatures when they never saw him, or he might have forged their signatures.
Hauser also defended signatures gathered by Dixon, who listed several different addresses on petitions that she gathered.
Dixon might suffer from dyslexia and mixed up the numbers, she said.
Stanton is scheduled to testify in a hearing July 16, the last in the ongoing court case.
Attorneys have been unable to locate Dixon.
Judge Mark Armstrong could rule on the petitions this summer.