Thursday, June 27, 2019

BREAKING: Judge Dismisses Effort To Accelerate Special Election For Arizona's U.S. Senate Seat (READ decision)

The Special Election to fill the rest of the late-Senator John McCain's 6-year term will not be moved up from next November. A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona laws that have permitted Governor Doug Ducey to appoint replacements for a period of nearly 2 1/2 years.

An appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa's decision has, in effect, already been filed. As AZ Law reported last week, plaintiffs appealed the "effective denial" by failing to rule promptly - a theory fiercely contested by Governor Ducey's outside counsel. This week, the Ninth Circuit gave the sides until Monday, July 1, to explain whether an appealable order was in place and whether the appeal should be expedited.

Although plaintiffs' counsel has not yet responded to AZ Law's requests, it would seem likely that today's dismissal be immediately appealed in the already-open matter.

Judge Humetewa scolded plaintiffs' counsel for its efforts to nudge the Court into issuing a ruling. In a footnote, the judge noted that many of the delays in moving the case forward had been because of counsel's earlier scheduling conflicts.

As to the substance, the Judge agreed with the Governor's arguments that the cost of a special election and maximizing voter turnout are important State interests that help justify Arizona's special election statute. She addressed the 27-month period:
"Because Senator McCain died just days before the scheduled 2018 primary election,
over two years will pass before the voters have a chance to fill the seat by election. While this period may not be a short period of time, nothing in the Seventeenth Amendment limits the period of time an appointed senator can be in office. The 27-month period, on its own, is not unreasonable considering case precedent, and does not amount to an unreasonable restriction on Plaintiffs’ right to vote. Because there is no unreasonable restriction on Plaintiffs’ right to vote, Plaintiffs cannot establish a violation of their Constitutional rights and therefore, Count One will be dismissed." 
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan was not involved in the case, but has vocally opposed the law. He tells AZ Law:
The Arizona GOP was well-aware of Sen. McCain’s dire diagnosis and changed Title 16 to give Gov. Ducey the right to play around with a Senate appointment. This change has effectively deprived Arizona voters a say in many national issues including important appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and other spots on the Federal bench.
The law was changed by the Governor and the Republican-controlled legislature in early 2018, and went into effect mere weeks before Sen. McCain's passing.

The rest of the 25-page decision is presented below.

Monday, June 24, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Step Toward Approving Arizona's Major Tax Case Against California (UPDATE)

The U.S. Supreme Court invited the federal government to weigh in on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich's proposed lawsuit against the state of California for stealing millions of dollars in tax revenues from Arizona (and other states).

Arizona filed the case at the end of February. After receiving extra time, California told the Supreme Court in May why the case should not go. After conferencing last week, the Justices today entered a one sentence order stating simply "The Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States."

The invitation is a small sign that Arizona's action has some merit. Katie Conner, Spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, agreed: "We are pleased the Supreme Court is taking Arizona's claims seriously and look forward to coordinating with the U.S. Solicitor General.”

As reported earlier on AZ Law, Brnovich's office has already coordinated with various groups and individuals to support the suit. Four friend of court briefs have already been filed supporting Arizona by the Cato Institute, the National Federation of Independent Business, and others.

The proposed complaint alleges that California unconstitutionally taxes Arizona LLCs for doing business in California - even if that LLC is only an investor in another company that does business in the Golden State. The U.S. Constitution (Article III, Section 2) makes the Supreme Court the initial - and, only - court when one state is suing another.

Arizona cites examples of California taxing Arizona LLCs, and even trying to levy against Arizona banks to collect the taxes. Arizona estimates that California's "extraordinarily aggressive" policies of costing Arizona nearly $500,000/year in lost tax revenues (because those businesses pay California and deduct it from their Arizona taxes). Arizona would also seek refunds to the more 13,000 Arizona LLCs that pay more than $10M/year to California. (And yes, Arizona believes other states - and, their LLCs - have been similarly effected.)

(Phoenix attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

"AZ Law" Installment #3, On-Demand June 22, 2019

In this on-demand installment, hear: (1) original reporting on the lawsuit demanding a sooner special election to fill the late John McCain's Senate seat; (2) the Arizona Supreme Court opinion on hashish and the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act; and (3) a column about an Arizona Court of Appeals 1st Amendment decision slamming a (different) County Attorney.

"AZ Law" includes articles and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, etc.

More on these cases and news can be found at

Aired 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. You can donate or listen here.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

"AZ Law" Installment #2, Aired June 15, 2019

"AZ Law" Installment #1: Aired May 18, 2019

BREAKING: Appeal Filed On Non-Decision To Force Earlier Special Election For Arizona's Senate Seat

An appeal was filed tonight in the constitutional challenge to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's ability to control the late Senator John McCain's seat until November 2020. There has not been a decision by Judge Diane Humetewa, but plaintiffs call it an "effective denial" of their challenge.

Oral arguments were held on April 12, and was taken under advisement at that time. Today's appeal notice follows an unusual round of letters and responses filed last week, as the plaintiffs have grown impatient.

AZ Law and Arizona's Politics have previously reported on the constitutional challenge to the Arizona vacancy law. At that point, Sen. Jon Kyl was serving at the Governor's request. Kyl then resigned, permitting Ducey to appoint Martha McSally to the seat until a special election would be held in 2020 to fill the last two years. Sen. McCain passed away on August 25, 2018.

The Arizona plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the vacancy law, and say the election must be held as quickly as possible.

This round of out of the ordinary filings began last week, when Judge Humetewa entered an order (below) noting that she had received a letter from plaintiffs' counsel that she would not consider.
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for a Status Conference later that day as a way of further nudging the judge, and Governor Ducey's attorneys promptly opposed it. The judge has not taken any action on the motion or the underlying issue in the subsequent week. That apparently prompted today's appeal of an "effective denial".

Plaintiffs cite a 9th Circuit opinion from 1992 that involved a well-known Arizona case - the Sierra Club's battle against the University of Arizona regarding the nearly-extinct Mt. Graham Red Squirrel. In that case, the appellate judges did express "dismay" over the trial judge's failure to schedule a hearing on a motion for an injunction.

(This article written by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich.)

Friday, June 14, 2019

FIRST PROGRAM: AZ Law Debuts Tomorrow, 11am, On Sun Sounds of Arizona

"AZ Law", our new program on Sun Sounds of Arizona, will be broadcast Saturday, June 15, at 11am. It will feature articles about Arizona court cases in both the state and federal courts.

Tomorrow's episode will include articles about the Arizona Supreme Court's decision on medical marijuana, the special election regarding Arizona's Senate seat previously held by the late John McCain, and updates on other pending cases.

Sun Sounds is a reading service for individuals who have difficulty reading print because of a disability. It is available statewide through special radios, on HD Radios, and online at

Sun Sounds is a nonprofit that is part of the Rio Salado Community College public radio family, including KJZZ and KBAQ. 

NEW: October Trial Date Set For Valley Teen Facing Terrorism, Assault Charges; New Documents Released

An October 14 trial has been set for the terrorism and assault charges against 18-year old Ismail Hamed. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sally Schneider Duncan also ordered the release of more documents from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigation; those previously-sealed reams of documents were released this afternoon.

Hamed is charged with assisting ISIS by spreading its propaganda. On January 7, 2019, he allegedly called 911 and swore allegiance to ISIS. He followed this by pulling a knife on an MCSO sergeant and hitting him with rocks. During the confrontation, Hamed was shot twice after following the sergeant back to the patrol truck.

The newly released documents include the grand jury indictment, search warrants, and the incident report including copies of text messages between Hamed and a friend discussing ISIS-supportive videos (and more).

The October trial date was set at a pretrial conference held on Tuesday.

BREAKING: AZ House Speaker Toma & Senate Pres. Petersen Waived Leg Privilege, Must Sit For Depos In Transgender Sports Case; But, Minor Girls Do, Too

In a twist this afternoon, a judge issued an Order compelling Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen to sit for...