Monday, December 26, 2022

SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD: Keeping Track Of Arizona's 2020-22 Election Case Aftermaths

UPDATE, 12/27, 12pm: Judge DENIES SANCTIONS against @KariLake  for her failed Election Contest, but will have to repay taxpayers $33,040 for costs.

Key paragraph:

Local attorney Tom Ryan tells Arizona's Law that Judge Peter Thompson might be trying to discourage Lake from appealing his decision denying her Election Contest.

"The defendants might consider appealing the denial of attorneys fees ruling. Unfortunately, since it is a factual finding, rather than a purely legal finding, they will have to show that the determination by Judge Thompson was arbitrary, irrational and capricious," Ryan said. "In reading the entire ruling it appears to me that Judge Thompson was trying to strike a balance to remove the incentive for Lake to appeal, and to bring finality now to the process given that the new Statewide Office holders will be taking their new office on January 2nd."

And, here is analysis I provided to a local reporter: 
"As we discussed, the judge had a wide latitude on this issue of sanctions. He is very understanding of the constraints placed on anyone bringing an Election Contest. However, I think he went too far. You need to have more than just concerns when you file; you need to have some solid evidence to back up those concerns. 

"Judge Thompson's ruling encourages fishing expeditions. And, if you don't catch anything sometimes, that's just the way it goes. That's not the right standard for Election Contests."



***

UPDATE, 12/26, 5pm: Kari Lake's attorneys are asking Judge Peter Thompson to not "punish" them for bringing the Election Contest, suggesting that if he does award the nearly $700,000 asked for by defendants, it will cause an erosion of "trust in the election process."

"Trust in the election process is not furthered by punishing those who bring legitimate claims as Plaintiff did here. In fact, sanctioning Plaintiff would have the opposite effect."

Plaintiff repeats many of the claims that it failed to prove, but argues that the 2-day trial demonstrated that the legal action was brought in good faith and not simply to harass.

However, the Response also continues to make claims that Lake has not been able to back up, saying that the issues on Election Day in Maricopa County "injured Plaintiff and millions of Arizona voters." The Response also claims that Maricopa County "reported" 25,000 additional ballots the day after the election, even though testimony showed that the earlier report was an "estimate".

Finally, the Response misstates what Ms. Lake tweeted within the past 24 hours. She quoted a commentary by Rachel Alexander claiming that Judge Thompson's December 24 Minute Entry had inappropriately been "ghostwritten" by one of the defense attorneys. More than simply retweeting Ms. Alexander, Lake amplified it in the body of her own tweet. (A sideshow, indeed, but it was cited by Maricopa County as reason for sanctioning Lake.)


UPDATE, 12/26, 9am: Kari Lake and her attorneys could be on the hook for an estimated $695,975 in sanctions to cover the attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the three defendants in her failed Election Contest. Maricopa County and the Secretary of State's Office, as well as Gov.-Elect Katie Hobbs, filed their Motions for Sanctions and Applications for Attorneys' Fees this morning (as ordered by Judge Peter Thompson).

"Enough is really enough", the County concluded. "It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials. This matter was brought without any legitimate justification, let alone a substantial one. The Maricopa County Defendants therefore ask this Court to impose sanctions against Plaintiff Kari Lake and her attorneys, Brian Blehm and Kurt Olsen."

Breakdown:
Secretary of State's: $36,990
Maricopa County: $25,050
Gov-Elect Hobbs: $633,935
Total: $695,975

***

As you know, Arizona has seen MANY election-related lawsuits come and go during the past two cycles. Arizona's Law has been here to cover them, and we are keeping track of those that are or might result in some sort of sanctions to the parties/attys.

Because of the recent raft of failed Election Contest lawsuits that have sanctions in progress or being threatened, we decided to keep track of the statuses and the filing in this, centralized place. We will be adding to this article as warranted, so check back.

1) AZGOP owes AZ Secy/State, $18,237, from 2020 case. This is currently in the Arizona Court of Appeal, and a bond has been posted.

2) Finchem/Gosar/Kern owe Fernandez $75,000. This is currently on appeal in the Arizona Court of Appeals. This case is J6-related. Charlene Fernandez was in Leg, was 1 of the many Dems who wrote ltr concerned about the 3 colleagues' J6 activities. They sued her - just her - for defamation. Woefully inadequate case, prompting the sanctions.

3) Arizona Republic/American Oversight v Karen Fann (Cyber Ninjas): These are public records cases stemming from the 2021 Arizona Senate/Cyber Ninjas "audit" of the 2020 election. Defts have until Dec. 28 to respond to the Arizona Republic's application for attys' fees, and other sanctions pending.

4) Finchem/Lake (pre-election): attys will likely owe Mari. Cty. $141,000, for pre-election "paper ballots" case. Next up: a Response from Finchem/Lake.

5) Borelli Election Contest: Case was quickly dismissed. Unclear if any defendants will ask for sanctions.

6) Finchem Election Contest. Judge invites sanctions filing. Awaiting sanctions filings from multiple defendants, deadline is after New Year's.

7) Hamadeh Election Contest: Judge invites sanctions filings. Deadline is not yet set.

8) Lake Election Contest: Judge invites sanctions filings. Deadline is Dec. 26 at 8am. Three separate Motions were filed before the deadline: from Maricopa County, Gov-Elect Katie Hobbs, and from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (in her official capacity. (Details will be added shortly.)

A trend to consider: these are listed chronologically, and the amounts being sought - and, awarded - are steadily increasing. Given the expedited nature of #6-8, the motions filed, the oral arguments, etc.,  that trend will likely continue.

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"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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