The Cyber Ninjas quietly filed a Special Action Petition last night with the Arizona Supreme Court, stating that they should be able to ask for a new judge in the election "audit" records case brought by the Arizona Republic newspaper.
The action seeks to knock down a pandemic-related Administrative Order from the Supreme Court stopping parties from having their usual right to ask for a change of judge as a matter of right. The original purpose of suspending that right was "to reduce the risk of virus exposure inherent in out-of-county judges’ travel."
However, as Cyber Ninjas' attorney Jack Wilenchik notes, the Court is now extending that suspension indefinitely. This seems especially odd in Arizona's larger counties, where striking a judge as a matter of right does not force an "out-of-county judge" to enter the picture.
Supreme Court Justice Bill Montgomery issued an order tonight determining that the Ninjas' Petition will be treated as a normal Petition for Review. The Court of Appeals had denied the Special Action earlier this week.
The request to remove Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah from the Arizona Republic's case was denied earlier this month by Judge Randall Warner, thus sparking this series of Special Action requests. Hannah had ruled against the Arizona Republican Party in a post-election challenge, and his award of attorneys' fees to Arizona's Secretary of State is also currently on appeal.
The Republican Party is not involved in this lawsuit, but Wilenchik represented it in that case, and argues that Hannah shows "actual bias and prejudice" against the Arizona GOP and "conservative causes".
Meanwhile, back in Superior Court, Judge Hannah has oral argument on the newspaper's request for an Order to Show Cause scheduled for August 23.
Here are the new Petition and Montgomery's Order.
"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. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet.