Thursday, July 29, 2021

BREAKING: Cyber Ninjas Quietly Go To Arizona Supreme Court Over Right To Change Judge In Arizona Republic's "Audit" Records Case (READ Petition)

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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

NEW INVESTIGATION: NAU Foundation Hides "Extraordinary" $5.5M Proposed Fine; Among Largest Penalties By Trump's FCC For Alleged Misuse of Educational Broadband Licenses

While the rest of the world was still buzzing about the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, then-President Trump's FCC was hammering Arizona's NAU Foundation with one of the largest suggested fines in the country, $5.5M. Although they had done away with the requirement that licensees of the Educational Broadband Service ("EBS") spectrum use the frequencies for educational purposes, they approved $47M+ in proposed fines.

The NAU Foundation leadership would not say whether they have informed the Board of Directors of the potential mega-hit. And, Washington lobbyists hired to "interact" with Congress had no apparent impact.

The NAU Foundation is an inter-dependent but separate, private entity benefitting Northern Arizona University, the third-largest public university in the state, and its students. It also happens to hold nearly three dozen of the EBS licenses across the country as an investment vehicle. 

The Foundation turned over use of the valuable frequencies when it entered into long-term leases with T-Mobile (fka Sprint), admittedly aware of the risk of them not being used for legitimate educational purposes. It is unlikely they thought the risk was this significant, as two Democratic Commissioners also opposed what they called the "novel" and "extraordinary" fines.

NAU Foundation executives have declined to answer Arizona's Law's repeated requests for documents and information related to its possibly-ongoing battle against the hefty fine, and it is unclear whether it would be subject to Arizona's public records law. Foundation Executive Director Michael Bassoff did acknowledge the nasty situation, stating "NAU has owned and operated several EBS licenses for years without issue while maintaining a professional relationship with the FCC.  In late 2020, the NAU Foundation became aware of the potential issuance of an NAL against certain licenses it owned.   When made aware of the NAL issue, the NAU Foundation began a dialogue with the FCC."

However, examinations of the FCC file, its January 7 "Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture" (commonly abbreviated as NAL and reproduced below) and other public documents explain much of the strange tale. The Foundation began investing in the special educational licenses more than 10 years ago, and have steadily built up a portfolio of 35 of these licenses.

With the Foundation declining to respond, it is difficult to say how much the licenses cost - and, how much revenue the Foundation receives from T-Mobile. However, annual reports which non-profits must file with the IRS give some perspective. Even as the Foundation purchased two additional licenses in 2019, the "book value" assigned to all of the licenses by Foundation accountants has steadily decreased to the current (2020) amount of $177,944. (see IRS report below)

(From Foundation's 2020 Report)
The amount of the lease payments (revenue) received from T-Mobile is impossible to ascertain without the Foundation's cooperation. The IRS reports only require broad categories, and the Foundation undoubtedly receives investment income and royalty income from different sources. 

But the total NET revenue for the entire Foundation in 2020 was $11.2M, making the FCC fine equivalent to almost exactly half of a full year's net revenue. (Akin to paying a $50,000 fine on your annual salary of $100,000 - if you had NO other expenses.)

While the size of the eye-popping $5.5M proposed fine was "extraordinary", in the words of dissenting FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks - a Democrat appointed to the Commission by former President Trump - the Foundation knew it was running a risk by not conducting any educational purposes with the spectrum licenses.

At a 2019 Arizona Board of Regents meeting, then Executive Director of the Foundation (and Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement for the university) Rickey McCurry singled out the licenses as a key non-gift revenue stream for the Foundation, and said "there could be potential challenges that may exist with the FCC that could have an adverse effect." (From the ABOR's Minutes) He went on to tell the regents that the Foundation focuses on mitigating those risks.

Less than five weeks later, Trump-appointed Commissioner Brendan Carr sent the Foundation a letter asking how the NAU Foundation was complying with the educational requirements. That was quickly followed by a formal Letter of Inquiry.

McCurry filed a formal Response in October 2019 - which both the Foundation and the FCC have declined to provide to Arizona's Law. However, the FCC characterized it as saying "the Foundation admits that it has not made use of Local Program Committees for the past ten years since it has relied on “data/Internet transmission” for each of its EBS licenses."

The Foundation claimed in the Response that those committees to guide educational uses "no longer serve[] a purpose for EBS Licenses”". The NAU Foundation holds licenses across the country, from rural Vermont and Tennessee to the Silicon Valley and points in between. The FCC noted that the Foundation could not "will away" the requirement for local committees helping determine what educational needs could be met with the broadband.

The $5.5M fine is the 4th highest proposed by the FCC on January 7. Only the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation, and the Shekinah Network were hit harder.

Part of what makes the $47M in proposed fines so surprising is that the FCC had just eliminated the educational requirements in 2020 as part of a restructuring. No longer did the Foundation have to convene the local committees or provide at least 20 hours per week (per license) of educational usage.

The FCC stated "(a)s the Commission’s rule changes were forward-looking in nature, a change to the Commission’s rules does not relieve the Foundation of its original obligations to have complied with the rules in effect before the rule change."

The following month, the NAU Foundation retained a Washington, DC lobbying firm to "to interact with Congress and the FCC." Or, as Bassoff told us, they hired Cassidy & Associates because "the NAU Foundation believed it would be in its best interest to acquire the services of a lobbying firm in Washington to be available to provide consultation."

He would not answer which members of Congress the lobbyists spoke with or what assistance was provided under the $30,000 contract. That agreement was terminated earlier this month.

(In 2017, the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting detailed how the foundations for the University of Arizona and Arizona State University were hiring lobbyists to influence the State Legislature on behalf of their universities - keeping the expenses off of the universities' books and avoiding procurement laws. This is obviously not the same situation, and it appears to be the first time the NAU Foundation has hired lobbyists at the federal level.)

If the intent of hiring Cassidy & Associates was to help reduce or eliminate the $5.5M fine, there is not yet any indication that it was successful, and Bassoff's comment - along with the termination - leads to the conclusion that it was not.
NAU Foundation Exec Dir. Michael Bassoff 

Bassoff also refused to tell Arizona's Law whether the Foundation's Board of Directors had met since January 7 and whether they were informed of the large proposed fine. He declined to answer whether the leases with T-Mobile include an indemnity clause in case of FCC action, nor to discuss how such a financial hit would impact the Foundation's mission of assisting NAU and Lumberjack students. (Bassoff demurred on all follow-up questions by noting the open matter - whether or not the questions were directly related to the FCC matter.)

Perhaps the best chance for the NAU Foundation to get relief from the mammoth fine was the change of power in both the White House and the Senate. The Commission is presently split between two Democrats and two Republicans, with the fifth seat sitting vacant. President Joe Biden named Jessica Rosenworcel as the Acting Chairwoman of the FCC, and she is one of the two Commissioners to oppose the fines.

Rosenworcel made a short and impassioned statement in January opposing the fines. "These decisions suffer from a number of substantive and procedural infirmities. But most troubling is that the fines imposed here on the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation, the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Northern Arizona University Foundation, and other similar non-profit entities with programs to expand educational internet access lack any appropriate sense of proportion. Moreover, they are an unfortunate commentary on the priorities of this agency. During a pandemic when millions of people are struggling to get the connectivity they need to maintain some semblance of modern life, this is a strange use of agency resources. Instead of taking these unreasonably punitive actions, we should be leading with our humanity and finding ways to connect more people to the broadband services they need in crisis."

Once Biden nominates a fifth Commissioner and the Senate confirms the pick, the Commission could vote to reduce or eliminate the $5.5M fine against the NAU Foundation.

"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. 

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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Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.












Tuesday, July 27, 2021

BREAKING: County Supervisors To Hold Special Meeting Wednesday To Discuss Response To Senate's "Audit" Subpoena (READ Subpoena)

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss their response to the latest election audit-related subpoena from some Republican Senators.

At the 9am executive session, the Republican-dominated Supervisors will get legal advice from the (Republican) County Attorney's Office on several related matters: (1) compliance with the subpoena (below), (2) election administration and equipment, (3) "election-related public records requests", and (4) "election-related litigation". The two currently-active lawsuits related to public records requests do not involve Maricopa County, so the last two topics would appear to be forward-looking and/or requests that are not yet in the public sphere.

The new subpoena issued yesterday repeats some of the demands made in the previous one. Maricopa County turned over ballots, machines, voter registration records and more then, and that led to the recount/"audit" which began in April. The County did not turn over some items then, and the Senate has not tried to enforce compliance.

The new subpoena, signed by Senate President Karen Fann and Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Peterson, demands compliance by next Monday (August 2).

Maricopa County Supervisors Agenda - 7-28-2021 by arizonaspolitics on Scribd

Senate Subpoena to Mari Cty 20210726154038182 by arizonaspolitics on Scribd

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

NEW: 9th Circuits Shoots Down Don Shooter Civil Rights Suit Vs. Arizona/Mesnard/Adams (READ Opinion)

Former state lawmaker Don Shooter does not have a civil rights action against the State, J.D. Mesnard and Kirk Adams because of his 2018 expulsion, the 9th Circuit ruled today. Shooter had claimed that his rights were violated by a conspiracy between the Governor's Chief of Staff (Adams) and the Speaker of the House (Mesnard) to get rid of him without due process.

Shooter's suit was dismissed by the federal court judge in 2019, and today's 3-0 decision agrees with the dismissal. Judge Daniel Collins notes that Shooter agreed that the State of Arizona should not have been sued, and that the trial court judge was correct in finding that Mesnard and Adams had qualified immunity.

Shooter also tried to claim that his rights were violated because a new "zero tolerance" sexual harassment policy enacted in the wake of the allegations was enforced retroactively. The Court seemed most offended by this argument, noting that Shooter would have had to show that the previous policy permitted his behavior. 

Shooter has utterly failed to do so. As noted earlier, the allegations against Shooter included the following: that he “grabbed and shook his crotch” in front of a female government affairs officer from the Arizona Supreme Court; that he made “sexualized comments” about a female lobbyist’s appearance; and that he hugged a female newspaper intern “in a prolonged, uncomfortable, and inappropriate manner.”  The notion that the Arizona Legislature previously permitted this type of conduct is simply implausible, and nothing in Shooter’s complaint supports such an inference.

On June 30, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Mesnard had legislative immunity for part of the separate defamation action brought by Shooter. However, that case will move forward because they also ruled that Mesnard did NOT necessarily have immunity for a news release that he sent out about the matter. A status conference is set for September 10.

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Friday, July 16, 2021

PODCAST, LISTEN: Election Audits, Supreme Courts, Death Penalty, BLM Protesters File Suit Vs. County Attorney, More; A New Installment of "AZ Law"

 We have posted the newest installment of "AZ Law". It is available below, it is available wherever you usually find your podcasts, and it will be broadcast on Sun Sounds of Arizona at 10:30am on Sunday (and various other times).

The latest on the public records lawsuits regarding the State Senate recount/"audit", fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in the Arizona voting rights case, and protesters file a $119M lawsuit against the Maricopa County Attorney for charging them as gang members. These and more in this program. You can find the full listing of articles at ArizonasLaw.org.

"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 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.

Today's full article listing:

--Court "Completely Rejects" State Senate's Reasons For Not Turning Over Audit-Related Records Held By Cyber Ninjas/Stranger & Stranger: Cyber Ninjas Tries To Disqualify Judge, from Paul Weich/AZ Law

--Early voter law changed before SCOTUS ruling, from Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

--Arizona prevailed in ballot harvesting case, but Brnovich, Scalia wer the big winners, commentary from Robert Robb/Arizona Republic

--Protesters charged as gang members file lawsuit against Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, from Melissa Blasius/ABC15

--Arizona executions put on hold over snafu with death-penalty drugs, from Brooke Newman/Cronkite News


Thursday, July 15, 2021

BREAKING: Court "Completely Rejects" State Senate's Reason For Not Turning Over Audit-Related Records Held By Cyber Ninjas (READ Decision)

 A judge today "completely reject(ed)" State Senate President Karen Fann's reason for not turning over records related to her election audit. It does not matter whether the records are in the hands of the Cyber Ninjas or subcontractors, Judge Michael Kemp ruled.

"The Court finds that any and all documents with a substantial nexus to the audit activities are public records. This does not mean that all internal files of all government vendors constitute public records of the officer or public body with whom they contracted their services. The Court further finds that CNI and the subvendors are agents for the Senate Defendants who have at least constructive possession of the documents in question. In Court filings in a related case, Arizona Democratic Party, et al. v. Fann, et al., CV2020-006646, Defendant Fann admitted that CNI and Mr. Bennett were the Senate’s authorized agents."

Judge Kemp concluded his 6 1/2 page ruling with this clear message: " It is difficult to conceive of a case with a more compelling public interest demanding public disclosure and public scrutiny. The Motion to Dismiss is denied."

In a separate ruling this morning, Kemp also rejected efforts by Fann and the Cyber Ninjas to yank a related case - from the Arizona Republic - from Judge John Hannah. The effort to transfer/consolidate is just one of the legal tactics they have used to get rid of Judge Hannah - Arizona's Law separately reported yesterday on the Motion to Disqualify him.

Although Judge Kemp did not give a deadline for the defendants to turn over the records that are not in the physical control of the State Senate, there are two dates in related proceedings to keep in mind. First, the OSC return hearing that was supposed to take place yesterday in the Arizona Republic's case was pushed back to July 21. And, the (U.S.) House Oversight Committee got into the game yesterday with an extensive request to Cyber Ninjas for documents and communications. The deadline for that is July 28.

 (This is a developing story. Please check back for further reporting.)

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

STRANGER AND STRANGER: Cyber Ninjas Tries To Disqualify Judge, Calling Him "Bias(ed)", and Previous Ruling "Plainly Bizarre" (READ Motion)

UPDATE, 7/15, 8:45am: Presiding Civil Judge Pamela Gates has assigned Judge Randall Warner the task of ruling on the Cyber Ninjas' Motion to remove the case from Judge John Hannah. The Minute Entry (below) is dated July 13 and was uploaded to the website this morning. The Motion is largely based on Hannah's rulings in a post-election case brought by the AZGOP, and that he "is believed to be a Democrat". Judge Warner presided over one of the other challenges brought by AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward; he permitted Ward to review a number of duplicated ballots and signature envelopes and then ruled that there was insufficient evidence to change any results. (That was one of the Arizona cases taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the GOP was finally rejected.)

Original article, 7/14, 4:45pm: STRANGER AND STRANGER: Cyber Ninjas Tries To Disqualify Judge, Calling Him "Bias(ed)", and Previous Ruling "Plainly Bizarre" (READ Motion)

The Cyber Ninjas are trying to turn the tables and disqualify the judge in one of the public records lawsuits against them and the Arizona State Senate. The Ninjas accuse Superior Court Judge John Hannah of showing "actual bias and prejudice" against the Arizona GOP and "conservative causes".

Hannah is the assigned judge in the Arizona Republic's attempt to obtain the results of the State Senate's recount/audit. He is also the judge who sanctioned the Arizona GOP for one of the post-election lawsuits challenging the November election. (That sanction is currently on appeal, and is the subject of an accompanying article.)

Not coincidentally, the law firm sanctioned along with the AZGOP in the November case is the same one that is representing Cyber Ninjas in this new lawsuit. Never mind that the AZGOP is not (officially) a party to the ongoing audit, Jack Wilenchik broadened his accusation to allege bias against "conservative causes".

Further, he continues his now-multi-case campaign against Judge Hannah, accusing him of making a "plainly bizarre ruling" in the previous case and claiming that he "is believed to be a Democrat". More on that scorching March 15 ruling against Wilenchik and the AZGOP can be found here (along with the decision itself).

It should be noted that the Cyber Ninjas also claim they should be able to have the case reassigned as a matter of right, and that the Supreme Court's Covid-19-related order halting such changes is ineffective. (It is an unusual order for counties which have plenty of Superior Court judges, as it was designed to aid smaller courts.)

A hearing was to have been held on the Republic's OSC this morning, but was delayed one week due to technical issues.

In other public records requests, we are still awaiting a decision in the American Oversight lawsuit against Fann, and the U.S. House Oversight Committee today issued a request for production of documents to Cyber Ninjas. The latter includes a request for any communications they may have had with former President Trump or any of his associates/friends.

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

USA Today/Republic Investigation Into Ducey's Office's Efforts To Refund $100M Of Tax Dollars To Connected Mining Companies; READ Court Decisions That Helped Stop It

Today's Arizona Republic/USA Today has an extensive investigative report into the efforts by Gov. Doug Ducey's office to quietly change tax law on its own in a way that would have refunded $100M to mining companies. The largest, Freeport McMoRan, had a connection with Ducey's Deputy Chief of Staff.

As lead investigative reporter, Craig Harris, summarized it this morning, "EXCLUSIVE: See how a rich Texas millionaire tried to get $100 million in Arizona tax dollars with help from Gov. @dougducey and his top lieutenants: @KirkAdams, @azchamber CEO @dbseiden, federal judge Mike Liburdi and Deputy Chief of Staff @AZGretchen."

The must-read story notes that AZ AG Mark Brnovich helped put a stop to the effort by appealing a ruling that favored the tax relief effort. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision and ruled in favor of the state.

For those interested in the legal aspects, we are publishing both the Superior Court decision and the Court of Appeals reversal:

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

NEW: Judge Will Pick Single Expert To Analyze MCSO's Persistent Investigations Backlog; Small MCSO Victory As Contempt Hearing Looms In Long-Running Melendres Case (READ Order)

As the latest contempt hearing looms over the Maricopa County Sheriff in the long-running discriminatory policing Melendres case, Judge G. Murray Snow ordered today that he will select a single management expert to analyze the MCSO's growing investigations backlog.

The decision (below) is a small victory for Sheriff Paul Penzone's office. His attorneys had proposed the single expert while Plaintiffs were urging Snow to permit each side to conduct competing investigations.

"Plaintiffs and the United States agree that it is critical to understand how or if MCSO’s mismanagement of resources enabled the backlog of misconduct investigations for the Court to tailor appropriate remedies. But a single analysis that results in recommendations is unlikely to be more efficient for the Court in the long run."

U.S. District Court Judge Snow decided to have the one report and recommendations and allow the parties to both argue from the same set of findings. He stated "(t)he management study will identify the sources of MCSO’s failure to comply with the deadline for investigations in the Second Order, and recommend actions necessary for compliance."

A status conference has been set for September 17.

The persistent backlog is the primary basis for an upcoming contempt hearing. The internal investigations are supposed to be completed within 85 days, but the most recent average is 500 days and there are 1,800 complaints in the queue.

The Melendres case was brought by civil rights groups in 2007, when the MCSO was led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It detailed that the department was racially profiling Latinos in an effort to find immigrants in the U.S. illegally. A court monitor was hired to ensure that the MCSO was remedying related problems.

In 2016, Arpaio was found to be in criminal contempt of court for ignoring parts of the Court's orders. He was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump before the conviction became official and a sentence issued.

Penzone inherited the case and the court monitor when he defeated Arpaio in the 2016 election.

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

READ: Maricopa Election Recount/"Audit" Records Court Battle; New Filings

 


"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

BREAKING: In Major Voting Rights Decision, U.S. Supreme Court UPHOLDS Arizona's Ballot-Harvesting Ban

 (This is a breaking news story. Please check back for further information.)

In a major voting rights decision for the entire country, the U.S. Supreme Court today UPHELD Arizona's so-called ballot harvesting ban and its out of precinct voting rules. 

Here's the link to the opinion. (Published below.)

The Justices split along political ideological lines. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion, and Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

Our article about the oral arguments in March has an explanation of the case and some background. And here is a great thread from election law Professor Rick Hasen.

The long and winding road of this case started back in 2016, a couple of years after the Supreme Court had freed Arizona and other states - those that had had a history of discrimination against minority voters - from pre-clearing new laws through the U.S. Department of Justice. Arizona passed a ban on turning in early ballots from people not in your family, and the Democratic party challenged it. 

That challenge was paired with another 2016 case challenging Arizona law throwing out the entire ballot when cast Outside Of the voter's Precinct ("OOP"). Both disproportionately impacted Arizona's minorites, the Democrats claim.

It is even the second time that the high court has weighed in on this case. Days before the 2016 election, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a 9th Circuit decision that struck down the so-called ballot harvesting ban.

"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. 

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. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

BREAKING: USDOJ and AZAG Spar On Vaccine "Mandate" Impacts On "John Doe" (READ Filings)

LATE UPDATE, 6pm: Judge Mike Liburdi has set a status conference for this coming Tuesday morning. (10/26 at 10:00am) UPDATE, 3:45pm :  BREAK...