Monday, December 9, 2019

READ and MARK-UP: Inspector General's Report On FBI's FISA Applications In Russian Influence Investigation

The long-awaited IG's Report was just released. Here it is:

Executive Summary (19 pages):

Entire Report:

FBI's Response to Report's Recommendations:


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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court REJECTS Arizona's Request To Sue Opioid Manufacturer's Family To Retrieve "Looted" Billions

(Updated, 9:00a.m.: Added statement from AG Brnovich)

In an Order this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Arizona cannot proceed with an unusual trial case in the nation's highest court to try to retrieve $4B from the Sackler family to apply to lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, one of the largest opioid manufacturers.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich expressed his disappointment with the Court's Order, and he indicated that he would "continue to fight for Arizona's interests in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings." (Full statement to "AZ Law" is below.)

Arizona's surprising approach to ask the Supreme Court to take original jurisdiction in order to set aside alleged fraudulent transfers of wealth from Purdue to the Sacklers has run into the bankruptcy case subsequently filed by Purdue Pharma.

Arizona answered Purdue by telling the Court last month that it would be unconstitutional for the Bankruptcy Code's automatic stay provisions to prevent the highest court from accepting original jurisdiction to handle a case like this. (See Reply Brief, below)

With a one sentence order, the Supreme Court denied Arizona's request.

This is one of two cases where Arizona has been asking the Supreme Court to take original jurisdiction of a case (rather than its normal task of handling appeals from lower courts). The other is the case against California regarding taxes imposed on Arizona-based LLCs. The Justices have asked the United States Solicitor General to express his opinion on whether the court should hear the case.

Arizona AG Mark Brnovich's full reaction:
“Due to the magnitude of the opioid crisis across our country, we are disappointed that we cannot bring our claims directly in the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, we respect the Court’s decision and thank those states that supported Arizona’s filing with an Amicus Brief.  Today’s ruling will not end our efforts to hold Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.  We will continue to fight for Arizona’s interests in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings.”


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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here.

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

BREAKING: AZ Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey - No Recall Election

The Arizona Supreme Court has decided that Payson Mayor -  and, former Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party - Tom Morrissey will not face a recall election on March 10. The justices unanimously agreed with the trial court that the Town Clerk inappropriately used a 2002 election to calculate the number of petition signatures needed, rather than the election last year that elected Morrissey.

The surprise Friday night ruling was not announced by the court, although a ruling was expected by this coming Tuesday on the expedited appeal.* As is typical with such election cases, a written opinion will follow "in due course".

The Arizona Constitution requires the number of necessary petition signatures to successfully place a recall election on the ballot be calculated as a percentage of votes cast in the "last preceding general election." Payson, like many other towns and cities, uses a two-part, non-partisan election; Payson, calls the first election a "primary", but if a candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, then that person is elected as the mayor without a second, "general" election.

With those terms in mind, the Payson Town Clerk - after consulting with legal counsel - decided that because 2002 was the last time the town had a second, "general" election, that that would be the basis for determining the recall minimum. Payson has grown considerably in the past 17 years, and more votes had been cast in the 2018 "primary" election which elected Morrissey.

Chief Justice Robert Brutinel noted briefly that the court was unanimous and that "article 8, part 1, section 1 (of the Arizona Constitution) requires the number of signatures needed to trigger a mayoral recall election must be calculated based on the 2018 election." In effect, the determination means that the term "general election" means the contest where the mayor is actually determined.


AZ Law reported on the arguments made by the recall committee Unite Payson and by Morrissey. We will update this article once reactions are received from the parties.


*The Court had been advised by Gila County that the deadline to begin printing ballots for the March 10 election would be December 11.
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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WATCH: GOP Senators Push Tucson Judges In Today's Confirmation Hearing; READ Their Questionnaires

Both Pima County judges recently nominated by President Donald Trump to the U.S. District Court bench in Tucson received their confirmation hearings today, and both were questioned more closely by Republican Senators than their Democratic colleagues.

Judges Scott Rash and John Hinderaker were introduced to the committee by Arizona Senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, respectively. Each judge later took three minutes to introduce family and friends, and to thank colleagues. (Judge Rash getting choked up with emotion.)

But, the fun did not begin until Senators had their opportunities to question the nominees. Freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) opened by grilling Judge Hinderaker about his views on the Second Amendment; the back and forth went on for a couple of minutes before the nominee noted that his experience as a litigator was in the civil arena and that he has not litigated (or, judicially handled) any Second Amendment cases. (The exchange begins at 2:05:07 in the video.)

Both judges received softball questions from Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) - Judge Rash devoted much time and effort as an attorney to helping the homeless population in Tucson receive proper legal representation, and Judge Hinderaker answered a pair of questions about how his 20 years in private practice prepared him for handling judicial matters, and how he approaches sentencing those convicted of crimes in his court. (Those begin at 2:13:19 and 2:09:38, respectively.)

The hearing (for Arizona's nominees, anyway) wrapped up with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) throwing an odd hypothetical at Judge Rash. The three minute discussion about how the latter would handle a case of a transgendered inmate asking for hormone treatments was hard to watch, although at least Judge Rash's emotions did not get in his way. (The exchange runs from 2:21:05-2:24:00.)

The introductions by Sens. Sinema and McSally begin at 0:31:38, with each injecting a little bit of humor. The latter did thank the former for working with her office on the nominations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also (finally*) released the extensive questionnaires that each nominee is required to complete before the hearing. Not many surprises came out of them - last year, Judge Hinderaker joined the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and Judge Rash joined the Federalist Society.

Perhaps the one eye-opener is that it was Sen. Sinema's office that initially recruited Judge Hinderaker for this nomination this past May/June. In fact, his answer about the process does not include any contact with Sen. McSally or her office.

Judge Rash was initially vetted by then-Sen. Jeff Flake, and was also interviewed by the late-Sen. John McCain. After being approved as a potential nominee by the White House in September 2018, he has met with interim-Sen. Jon Kyl, and both current Arizona Senators.

Here is the hearing. In addition to the time stamps noted above, Judge Hinderaker's opening remarks are at 1:48:50 and Judge Rash's at 1:55:19.
(will open in new window)


* "AZ Law" has requested the questionnaires from the Committee multiple times, and was told that if they were not posted, they had likely not been received. They were posted within the past 24 hours, and the hearing on these nominees was announced Monday.
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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

NEW: AZ Supreme Court Told Opponents' Absurdity Argument Is a Non Sequitur, Morrissey Recall Effort Fell Short

The Arizona Supreme Court should agree that a group trying to recall Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey fell short of gathering the necessary signatures because the Town Clerk incorrectly calculated the number of petition signatures needed.

Last week, AZ Law presented the opening brief by Unite Payson. Morrissey's answering brief was filed on Thanksgiving eve and is published below. Attorney Tim La Sota is defending the trial court's decision to use the vote total from Morrissey's 2018 primary election victory to calculate the number of recall signatures needed to force the March 2020 election, rather than reaching back to the 2002 general election.

Arizona's Constitution uses the phrase "the last preceding general election." Payson, like many other towns and cities, uses a two-part, non-partisan election; Payson, calls the first election a "primary", but if a candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, then that person is elected as the mayor without a second, "general" election.

La Sota argues "if a candidate is elected at what would otherwise be a primary election, that election is not a primary election and must be a general election." And, he suggests that Unite Payson's absurdity argument is a non sequitor, and that its brief is "at times contradictory".

Both sides reach back to the intent of the framers of the Arizona Constitution to bolster their views of how the Supreme Court Justices should rule. Morrissey believes "The Arizona Constitution was not really written with “top two” elections in mind, where candidates are often elected at the first election. Instead, it was written from the statewide standpoint, where there is a partisan primary (at
which no candidates are actually elected) followed by a November general election."

As an expedited election matter, the case will be decided soon, without oral argument. The Supreme Court Communications Director Aaron Nash tells AZ Law he is not yet sure when the justices will get together to reach a decision. (i.e. whether it will be placed on a set conference calendar or considered separately asap)


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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here. (Sun Sounds is 

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NEW: "Tucson Day" In Senate Judiciary Committee - Two Nominees For District Court Bench Receive Hearings

Both of the Pima County Superior Court judges nominated by President Donald Trump for spots on the U.S. District Court bench will receive their committee hearings in the U.S. Senate tomorrow morning.

Judges Scott Rash and John Hinderaker will come before the Judiciary Committee (8am MST, although an Appeals Court nominee will be questioned first) as part of a five-nominee panel. The hearing can be live-streamed here.

Rash was nominated in September for the lifetime position, and Hinderaker on November 6. (For more on the two judges, pleasehere and here.) The picks have been praised by Arizona Senators, Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema.
review our previous articles,

The Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to recommend the nominees to the entire Senate for confirmation at a later date. (Arizona's Law will continue to keep readers updated on the process.)

(Thanks, as always, to Judicial Nominations Blog for giving us early notice on the hearing.)

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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

LISTEN: "AZ Law's" Nov. 27 Installment - Border Aid Harboring Verdict, Supreme Court Appeal Of Payson Mayoral Recall, Duelling Commentaries On ASU Omni Case, More

In this installment of "AZ Law", we feature articles and commentaries regarding the verdict in the humanitarian aid volunteer's trial on harboring, the Supreme Court appeal on the recall effort against Payson's mayor, duelling commentaries about the case against ASU's Omni Hotel deal, and much more.
"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc.
Subscribe for future episodes wherever you get your podcasts!
"AZ Law" also airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here.
Thanks for listening, and your input is appreciated - Paul.Weich.AZlaw@gmail.com.

NEW: Supreme Court Told Recall Of Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey Should Be Back On the Ballot, Framers Were Clear

The group that gathered more valid signatures than required by the Payson Clerk reached back to Arizona's 1910 Constitutional Convention to explain to the Arizona Supreme Court why the recall of Mayor Tom Morrissey should be put back on next March's ballot.

Unite Payson filed their opening brief in the expedited election matter this past week. Judge Randall Warner (filling in in Gila County Superior Court) determined that the Recall Provision of the state constitution should use the number of votes cast in the most recent mayoral election to determine how many signatures needed to be collected for a recall.

The Constitution references the "last preceding general election". However, Payson has not had a general election since 2002 because the successful candidate in the "primary election" has received more than 50% of the vote - eliminating the need for a "general election."

When a group of citizens (using "Unite Payson" as their moniker) applied to circulate a recall petition in August, the Town Clerk - after seeking legal counsel - used the 2002 general election total rather than the 2018 primary election total. When the signatures were turned in, she set March 10, 2020 for the recall election.

Morrissey sued, and after a well-attended trial, Judge Warner found in his favor and struck the recall petitions.

Unite Payson has appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court and says that the judge should not have unilaterally rewritten the constitutional language simply based upon his belief that the higher threshold is more appropriate due to Payson's growth over the past 17 years. Attorney Eric Spencer argues that the court must give meaning to all of the words in that "last preceding general election" phrase.

The case is being handled on an expedited basis - as all election cases are - and Morrissey's response is due before Thanksgiving. The Court will decide the matter without oral argument.


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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here. (Sun Sounds is 

"AZ Law" can also be downloaded and subscribed to in all major podcast stores - iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Podbean, etc.

Friday, November 15, 2019

LISTEN: "AZ Law's" Nov. 16 Installment - Border Aid Volunteer Trial, New Judges, a Commentary On Arizona's Suit Vs. Obamacare, and More

This broadcast episode of "AZ Law" features articles and commentaries regarding the re-trial of a border aid volunteer, the suspended Maricopa County Assessor's court appearance in Utah, President Trump's new nomination for an Arizona judgeship, a commentary on the Attorney General's Obamacare lawsuit, and much more.

"AZ Law" includes articles and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts etc.

AZ Law also airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability.

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here.

Thanks for listening, and your input is appreciated - Paul.Weich.AZlaw@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

BREAKING: AZ Supreme Court Clears The Steps/Etc...Out Of Last Month's Order Prohibiting Pictures (READ new and old Orders)

(UPDATED, 5:30pm: Supreme Court Communications Director Aaron Nash responded to our questions - after 5pm, btw - and they are incorporated into the article below.)

The Arizona Supreme Court this afternoon released a NEW Order easing restrictions on photography, videography and live-streaming on the courthouse steps (and elsewhere near the court), after an October uproar about an order banning such activity.

The new Administrative Order will still prohibit activity in those more public areas if it "threatens any person, disrupts court operations, or compromises court security at entrances and exits and on patios, steps, and adjacent parking areas."

AZ Law followed up with the Court, and Dave Byers, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, explained: “The wording of the first version of the administrative order drafted by court staff was not clear enough and caused legitimate confusion. We listened to the concerns raised and redrafted the order, after seeking additional input, hopefully clarifying the issues."

Attorneys expressed concerns that the original order restricted the freedom of the press, and Phoenix media attorney Dan Barr suggested the restriction would be unconstitutional.

Barr told AZ Law this afternoon that he is grateful: "I greatly appreciate that the Supreme Court listened to our concerns and took out the language concerning photography outside the courthouse. The new order rightly focuses on disruptive conduct outside the courthouse as opposed to photography. I thank the Supreme Court for quickly fixing what was an unintended consequence of its original order."

Aaron Nash, the Court's Communications Director, tells AZ Law that he had spoken with members of the public who were planning to come to protest last month's Order, and that "everyone I spoke with on the phone was respectful in discussing their concerns and were relieved to hear they could come and record – that the order was not a ban on that activity."

AZ Law has not yet received comment from the Court.





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"AZ Law" airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here.

"AZ Law" can also be downloaded and subscribed to in all major podcast stores - iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Podbean, etc.

READ and MARK-UP: Inspector General's Report On FBI's FISA Applications In Russian Influence Investigation

The long-awaited IG's Report was just released. Here it is: Executive Summary (19 pages): Doj Ig Report on FBIs FISA Applicati...