Wednesday, January 12, 2022

After Long Path, Judge Warner Will (Again) Decide Disqualification Motion (UPDATE, READ Minute Entry)

UPDATE, 1/14 at 11:30am: After Long Path, Judge Warner Will (Again) Decide Disqualification Motion:
Wilenchik's new motion to disqualify Judge John Hannah from the election "audit" public records case is following a similar path as last July's unsuccessful motion. Today, it was assigned to Hon. Randall Warner for a decision. 

Warner denied the July Motion after it had virtually traveled Superior Court's hallways from Hannah to Presiding Judge Pamela Gates to Warner. The virtual trip for the current Motion added a stop because Gates also recused herself. That sent it to Associate Presiding Civil Judge Timothy Thomason. Thomason recused himself and assigned it to Judge Warner.

Warner has given the Arizona Republic until Tuesday morning to respond.

All of these judges have been involved in one or more of the many political- and election-related cases over the past couple of years(!), even as large as the Maricopa County Superior Court bench is (and it is one of the larger in the nation). In fact, Arizona's Law even published an article about the judge-picking process several months ago: "SIDEBAR: How Is a Judge Assigned A Case In Maricopa County Superior Court, and What Can the Parties Do?" Given all this and their desire to avoid the appearance of conflict, it would be inaccurate to conclude that the judges are recusing themselves because they are simply shying away from controversy.

(Also see below for original article re: Logan's text to State Senate President Karen Fann.)

Here is today's Minute Entry:

UPDATE, 2:45pm: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YA: Would-be Outgoing Cyber Ninjas' Attorney Accuses JUDGE of Unethical Behavior, Demands Disqualification

As indicated in the original article, the unpaid and would-be outgoing attorney for the Cyber Ninjas filed a Motion to disqualify Judge Hannah earlier today. Arizona's Law now has received and reviewed the Motion, and it is a doozy. (See below.)

Wilenchik accuses Judge Hannah of violating judicial ethics by being aware of the other public records request case filed against the State Senate and Cyber Ninjas, and by reading news coverage of the cases. Hannah asked Wilenchik at the Jan. 6 hearing about whether the deposition of Logan in the other case (filed by American Oversight) had taken place. (It had not, as detailed below.) Hannah also referenced the millions of dollars received by Cyber Ninjas for the election "audit", as the Arizona Republic had reported.

(It is worth noting that Wilenchik had also initially wanted the two separate lawsuits to be consolidated.)

The DQ Motion goes on to detail 18 political contributions allegedly made by Judge Hannah to progressive causes and/or candidates, in an effort to show bias. "This is an unusual level of political activity for most people, much less a superior court judge."

Here is the entire Motion:
Arizona's Law has previously reported on Wilenchik's initial (unsuccessful) efforts to remove Judge Hannah from the case. Wilenchik also asked the Supreme Court to find that he and his client had a right to strike Hannah from the case without cause, and that that peremptory challenge had wrongly been removed by the Court due to the pandemic. That was also unsuccessful.

Original article, 1/12, 1:15pm: BREAKING: Cyber Ninjas' Doug Logan Tells Senate President Karen Fann "I will stop completely covering" for State Senate In Longgg Text; Other Developments

As the developments in the aftermath of the Arizona State Senate's much-watched election "audit" continued to swirl around multiple court cases and former President Donald Trump talking about his Arizona attorneys in advance of his upcoming rally, new texts between former Ninja Doug Logan and Senate President Karen Fann have come to light. Logan tells the Republican that he "will stop completely covering" for her and threatens her that it will be out of his control after filing bankruptcy.

The texts were turned over by Fann attorney Kory Langhofer over the weekend, after being requested by American Oversight in one of the ongoing public records lawsuits last week. Langhofer explains that the January 3 communication from Logan to Fann was one long text, rather than a series - and that Fann did not respond. 

Logan claims to have "some patriots" working to help keep him from shutting down and defaulting in the two public records cases. He seems to know he should not be texting Fann, but claims "its (sic) the right thing to do."

Then, Logan gets to the nut of the matter: 
I have no intention of throwing you or anyone else under the bus, but I expect the time has also come for me to stop completely covering for decisions I didn't make. I will follow my legal council on what that looks like.
When we finally file for bankrupcy (sic), which I am trying to wait as long as possible before doing; it will be up to the bankrupcy court to decide what to do with the money owed. I've been told we have a strong legal case, but I will continue to put the country first; like I have in all of my decisions with this. When it hits bankrupcy court, it will be out-of-my-control.

Here are those texts:
The texts were filed with the court in American Oversight's case as part of a renewed Emergency Motion to depose Logan and to sanction the Logan/Cyber Ninjas for failing to appear at the January 5 deposition. They have reset the deposition for January 27 and are asking the Court to command his attendance.

Meanwhile, that attorney for the Cyber Ninjas who unsuccessfully tried to withdraw from both cases for lack of payment of his fees, filed a Motion today to kick Judge John Hannah off of the case. While not yet publicly available, this follows Hannah's scathing comments to attorney Jack Wilenchik during last week's contempt hearing. Hannah warned Wilenchik that he was "trolling" the court before denying Wilenchik's efforts to withdraw, held the Ninjas in contempt and ordered $50,000/day sanctions for failing to turn over the records.

(In his text, Logan seems to confirm to Fann that he is trying to "liquidat(e) all of the Cyber Ninjas assets" - presumably including those which contain the public records he is being sanctioned for.)

Finally, in an Order docketed yesterday, Judge Hannah determined that the funds deposited with the Clerk of the Court for sanctions could be properly distributed as received. The Clerk's Office confirmed to Arizona's Law that no funds had been received "as of COB yesterday".

This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich. Paul is currently running for a seat in Arizona's House of Representatives.

"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. 

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