The $75,516 in sanctions levied against U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, new State Senator Anthony Kern and defeated Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem were "richly deserved", and they were guilty of "harassment" and "political pandering" in the their defamation action against a former colleague.
The attorneys for former State Representative Charlene Fernandez filed their Answering Brief (below) last week, and are seeking additional sanctions for what they call a "groundless and bad-faith appeal". "Appellants made multiple false factual statements and dramatically mischaracterized settled law" in both their original action and in their Opening Brief, they argue.
We reported previously on the Opening Brief, and it can be read here.
David Bodney is handling the appeal for Fernandez.
While the Finchem/Gosar/Kern attorneys tried to refocus the appellate judges' attention into finding that they were justified in filing the defamation case, and that it was only after Fernandez's First Amendment defense came into play that it seemed the case was groundless. After that (obvious) defense was raised, they (twice) amended their Complaint.
Fernandez's Answering Brief blasts that with case law explaining that a trial court judge can impose sanctions even after late attempts are made to lessen the groundlessness. The key is whether it was groundless when they initially brought the case. (“Whether a defendant prevails on the merits is irrelevant to whether the plaintiff had a legal and factual basis to bring his claim in the first place.”*)
SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD UPDATE
Earlier today, Superior Court Judge Melissa Iyer Julian awarded sanctions against Finchem and/or his attorney in his unsuccessful Election Contest. Finchem is also awaiting word on sanctions in the pre-election lawsuit against machine counting of ballots that he filed along with Kari Lake.
* That quote in the Answering Brief is from Gitman v. Simpson. The author of this article represented the winning side in that defamation case.
This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich. Paul was 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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