Monday, December 23, 2019

LISTEN: "AZ Law's" December 21 Installment - Death Penalty, Initiatives, Much More

In this installment of "AZ Law", we feature articles and commentaries regarding several cases in the Supreme Courts - both Arizona and U.S. Most of the news is regarding murders/death penalty or election-related cases. 
"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.
More on these cases and other legal news can be found at ArizonasLaw.org.
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.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

UPDATE: Arizona Attacks U.S. Solicitor General's Dissing Of Tax Case Vs. California, "Simply Duck(s) What It Cannot Defend"

Arizona quickly answered the U.S. Solicitor General's brief opposing the state's lawsuit against California. Arizona accuses its neighbor of stealing some $10.5M from Arizona and its LLCs each year.

The Response was filed tonight, just 10 days after the Solicitor General told the U.S. Supreme Court that it should not accept Arizona's case. "AZ Law" wrote then that it is "very unusual" for the Supreme Court Justices to ask for an opinion from the Solicitor General and then to not follow it.

But, Arizona claps back in its 12 1/2 page brief, saying that the SG is "simply ducking what it cannot defend" in California's actions and Arizona's right to pursue a remedy in the highest court. (The Supreme Court is not required to accept Arizona's case.)

As an example of this, Arizona's Response notes that the SG "correctly observes" that the model for the Supreme Court accepting this type of case between two states is if the alleged unconstitutional behavior is akin to an act that would cause a war (Latin = "casus belli").
But despite the acknowledged centrality of this standard, the SG Brief notably refuses to offer any analysis under it. And that standard makes this action a “model case” for accepting jurisdiction. 
Arizona specifically argued that “[t]he federal government would never tolerate equivalent conduct by other nations—something California does not meaningfully dispute.” The SG Brief notably does not dispute this point either. And for
good reason: If China or Venezuela imposed an illegal head tax on all U.S. citizens of
Chinese/Venezuelan descent and then enforced the tax by coercing U.S. banks into transferring U.S.-based deposits to them, the United States would hardly stand idly by. Instead it quite properly would regard such conduct as a casus belli precipitating an
international incident. 
For more information and to review Arizona's initial filing, please see our initial article. To review the Solicitor General's Brief, please see our most recent article on the case.

It is currently unclear when the Supreme Court will reach a decision on whether or not to accept Arizona's case.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

NEW: 9th Circuit Stands By Earlier Decision Giving Arizona Death Row Inmate A New Sentencing; Defense Attorney Messed Up

An inmate on Arizona's death row should receive a new sentencing hearing because his defense counsel did not properly present possible mitigating factors. That was the decision earlier this year by a 9th Circuit panel, and the full 9th Circuit bench today declined to reconsider the opinion.

George Kayer filed a habeas corpus petition with the federal courts after the Arizona Supreme Court reviewed and upheld the death sentence. The District Court denied Kayer's petition, but a split appeals panel reversed. Arizona asked the full court to hear the case, but the request for en banc only garnered 12 votes, short of the necessary majority.

Kayer killed his friend, Delbert Haas, in the desert in order to rob him. His girlfriend turned him in to security at a Las Vegas hotel several days later. 

His trial attorneys did minimal and last-minute work developing Kayer's mental illness history. The trial judge did not believe that that prejudiced the defendant in the sentencing phase, but the 9th Circuit found that that was "objectively unreasonable".

"Counsels’ failure to prepare for the penalty phase hearing was egregious, and the mitigation evidence presented at the hearing was pathetically inadequate. We also held that the no-prejudice decision by the state PCR judge was an objectively unreasonable decision within the meaning of AEDPA."

No word yet on whether the Attorney General's Office will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court or will move forward with the re-sentencing.

*****
"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.

More on these cases and other legal news can be found at ArizonasLaw.org.

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.

Friday, December 13, 2019

ARIZONA'S LEGAL SHORTS: An LA Times Explainer On History, Changing Makeup Of The Ninth-No-Longer-"Nutty" Circuit

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting explainer on how the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals got its liberal reputation, and the changing makeup of the court. (President Carter appointed 15 judges, President Trump now has confirmed 8*.)

Here's a key section:
That was a long time ago. Is the “nutty 9th” reputation still true?
Not for a while. The court still leans liberal, but without the fervency of its past.
Feuer posits that this is, at least in part, due to a general trend of the judges appointed by Democratic presidents shifting more toward the center over the last few administrations, while Republicans have continued to appoint judges who are consistently, if not increasingly, conservative. And the Carter-era liberal lions are no longer on the court.
But even with all that said, the makeup of the court has still changed drastically during the Trump years.
As recently as April 2017, judges appointed by Democratic presidents outnumbered Republican appointees on the court by about 2 to 1 (that number probably also includes semi-retired senior-status judges). The court is now edging toward a more even split, with a ratio of 16 Democrat-appointed active judges to 13 Republican-appointed ones.
It is worth noting that Arizona's Republican politicians have become much quieter about splitting up the Ninth Circuit. Senator McSally (R-AZ) is a co-sponsor of one bill in the Senate, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) is the sponsor in the House (Gosar is a co-sponsor).  However, none of the bills in the current Congress (House and Senate) have received a hearing.

*One of those eight new Judges is Arizona's Hon. Bridget Bade.
*****

"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.

More on these cases and other legal news can be found at ArizonasLaw.org.

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.

LISTEN: Special Presentation - U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments, McKinney v. Arizona

In this special, "AZ Law" presents this week's oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the McKinney v. Arizona case.

We have written about this interesting death penalty case before. In Wednesday's oral arguments, former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued on behalf of convicted murderer James McKinney. Arizona's Solicitor General, O.H. Skinner, argued for the State of Arizona.



Here is how the Court describes the facts of the case and the questions presented:

Facts of the case

By way of relevant background, James McKinney’s childhood was “horrific” due to poverty, physical and emotional abuse—all detailed in the court filings. Around age 11, he began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and he dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He repeatedly tried to run away from home and was placed in juvenile detention.
In 1991, when McKinney was 23, he and his half-brother Michael Hedlund committed two burglaries that resulted in two deaths. The state of Arizona tried McKinney and Hedlund before dual juries. McKinney’s jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder (without specifying whether it reached that verdict by finding premeditation or by finding felony murder), and Hedlund’s jury found him guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.
At McKinney’s capital sentencing hearing (before a judge), a psychologist testified that he had diagnosed McKinney with PTSD “resulting from the horrific childhood McKinney had suffered.” The psychologist further testified that witnessing violence could trigger McKinney’s childhood trauma and produce “diminished capacity.” The trial judge credited the psychologist’s testimony, but under Arizona law at the time, the judge was prohibited from considering non-statutory mitigating evidence that the judge found to be unconnected to the crime. Because McKinney’s PTSD was not connected to the burglaries, the judge could not consider it mitigating evidence and thus sentenced him to death.
The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed McKinney’s death sentence on appeal. In 2003, McKinney filed a habeas petition in federal court. The district court denied relief, and a panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The Ninth Circuit granted rehearing en banc and held that the Arizona courts had violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104 (1982), by refusing to consider McKinney’s PTSD. In Eddings, the Court held that a sentencer in a death penalty case may not refuse consider any relevant mitigating evidence. A violation of Eddings, the Ninth Circuit held, required resentencing. Thus, the Ninth Circuit remanded to the federal district court to either correct the constitutional error or vacate the sentence and impose a lesser sentence. Arizona moved for independent review of McKinney’s sentence by the Arizona Supreme Court; McKinney opposed the motion on the ground that he was entitled to resentencing by a jury under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), which held that juries, rather than judges, must make the findings necessary to impose the death penalty. The Arizona Supreme Court disagreed, finding that McKinney was not entitled to resentencing by a jury because his case was ‘final’ before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Ring.

Question

  1. Was the Arizona Supreme Court required to apply current law, rather than the law as it existed at the time a defendant’s conviction became final, when weighing mitigating and aggravating evidence to determine whether a death sentence is warranted?
  2. Does the correction of error under Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104 (1982), require resentencing?
*****

"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.

More on these cases and other legal news can be found at ArizonasLaw.org.

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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

READ: Oral Argument On Arizona Death Penalty Case, Before the U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona's Solicitor General faced off with a former U.S. Solicitor General in front of the U.S. Supreme Court today on an Arizona death penalty case which could effect a number of other inmates currently on death row.

James McKinney is attempting to get a new sentencing, one that would take into greater account PTSD from abuse he suffered as a child. Neil Katyal, arguing on his behalf, also suggested that the sentencing needs to go back to the trial court (and a jury).

After the argument, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich noted that Mr. McKinney was convicted of "brutally murder(ing) two innocent people" nearly 30 years ago, and that "this is another attempt by a convicted killer to delay accepting responsibility for his heinous crimes. We must remember the victims and their families. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

AZ Solicitor General O.H. Skinner's argument in front of the Justices could not be as emotional, however. He attempted to convince the court that the sentencing does not have to go back to the trial court and countering McKinney's position that vacating the death sentence would somehow un-do the conviction for the murders.

The Arizona Republic/USA Today provided a very good article this afternoon on the oral arguments. And, this article from SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe has further detail. We would like to add the transcript from today's oral arguments, below.

As always, it is also interesting to try to interpret how the Justices are leaning in the case - especially by noting which Justices questioned which attorneys, etc. Without engaging in prognostications, we will simply note how active each of the Justices was.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Sonia Sotomayor were the most active, interjecting approximately 17 and 15 times, respectively. None of the other conservative Justices reached double digits, while Breyer (12) and Kagan (11) both spoke up more. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participated three times, while - as is customary - Justice Clarence Thomas does not appear in the transcript.

If you would like us to highlight certain portions of the transcript, feel free to drop us a note, at Paul.Weich.AZlaw @ gmail.com.

BREAKING: A 2nd Bad Day In a Row For Arizona AG At U.S. Supreme Court: Solicitor General Opposes AZ Effort To Sue California For Unconstitutional Taxes

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has suffered back-to-back setbacks in the U.S. Supreme Court on successive days, when the U.S. Solicitor General filed its long-awaited brief Tuesday night strongly urging the Court to reject Arizona's effort to sue California for unconstitutional taxes.

The case was one of two attempts by Arizona this year to convince the highest court in the land to accept original jurisdiction of a legal action (rather than its normal appellate jurisdiction). The Supreme Court rejected the other one on Monday, when it ordered that Arizona could not sue Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family in the Supreme Court.

The filing against California is a less unusual case than the Purdue Pharma/Sackler opioid profits effort. In June, the Justices asked the U.S. Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the Department of Justice's position on whether the high court should consider Arizona's case against California.

The Solicitor General's position was not friendly to Arizona. Against the backdrop that the Supreme Court has often said that it should only accept original jurisdiction cases sparingly, the SG states that this is not such a case:
"Arizona does not assert the types of interests that would warrant such an exercise, and the issues Arizona seeks to present can be adequately raised and litigated by Arizona entities that are actually subject to the tax. In addition, Arizona’s Due Process and Commerce Clause claims would more appropriately be considered on developed factual records concerning affected entities and with the benefit of authoritative interpretations of the relevant statutes by the California courts. Arizona’s Fourth Amendment claim also does not warrant an exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction because it similarly seeks to advance personal rights and does not otherwise warrant an exercise of original jurisdiction."
Arizona 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. For more information on Arizona's proposed Complaint, here is our first article on the case.

The Supreme Court Justices are not bound to accept the Solicitor General's conclusion, but it is very unusual for the Court to ask the SG to weigh in and to then ignore the opinion.

("AZ Law" has asked the Attorney General's office for response and will update this article as warranted.)


*Arizona's Solicitor General argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court earlier today in the McKinney v. Arizona death penalty case; no inferences should be drawn as to how those oral arguments were received. Nor does "AZ Law" think that either of the AG's original jurisdiction efforts were unwise.
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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. 

LISTEN: "AZ Law's" December 10 Installment - Arizona at the U.S. Supreme Court, A Name Change For a Transgendered Person, More

In this installment of "AZ Law", we feature articles and commentaries regarding the U.S. Supreme Court denying Arizona's unusual bid to go after Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, The Arizona Supreme Court's ruling in a recall election case, a name change for a transgendered person, 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.
More on these cases and other legal news can be found at ArizonasLaw.org.
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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

SPECIAL AUDIO PROGRAMMING: The Articles of Impeachment, Read In Its Entirety; ALSO, Other Key Impeachment Documents

"AZ Law" is a program developed for Sun Sounds of Arizona. Sun Sounds is a non-profit reading service for people with disabilities which make it difficult for them to read or hold printed material.
Most of Sun Sounds programming, therefore, is devoted to reading articles from newspapers and magazines, as well as books.
Today, I had the opportunity to read the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. This instantly-historical document is presented in its entirety for streaming or downloading.

This is the entire series (to date) of Special Presentations of the key documents in the ongoing impeachment saga. We previously recorded the Whistleblower Complaint that initiated the current process. And, we have just recorded both the Democratic and Republican Intelligence Committee reports on the investigation. Today, we also recorded the Judiciary Committee's report on "The Constitutional Grounds For Presidential Impeachment."
"AZ Law" typically includes articles and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, etc.
If you know someone who could benefit from Sun Sounds' 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.

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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"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. 

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.

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

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. 

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. 



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. 

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. 

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 

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



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.

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




UPDATE: Split 9th Circuit Panel (Temporarily) Rejects GOP's Effort To Re-Impose Arizona's Voter Registration Deadline

By a 2-1 vote last night, a 9th Circuit panel kept Arizona's extended voter registration deadline in place. Two days ago, a District Cou...