Wednesday, August 23, 2023

BREAKING, SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD UPDATE... LET'S START THE LABOR DAY WEEKEND LAWYERING: Hamadeh Responds To Sanctions Filing, Fontes Replies One Hour Later

UPDATE, 9/1, 5pm: "SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD UPDATE: Mayes Asks For $42,000 In Sanctions From Hamadeh"

This afternoon's Application from Kris Mayes' legal team submitting its bill means that Hamadeh's sanctions in its Special Action Petition will be a $55,000 mistake.

Mayes (in her capacity as the Contestee - not as the Attorney General) is represented by Perkins Coie. They filed their $42,277.96 bill today, detailing the work they did in uncovering and detailing the Hamadeh misrepresentation that led the Supreme Court Justices to impose the sanctions.

Hamadeh can object to the amount requested, and the Supreme Court will have the final say. The Secretary of State's Office's request is just shy of $13,000 (after Hamadeh discovered a $184 entry that dealt with the other appeal).

Filing portals remain open, but we expect the attorneys to now enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

UPDATE, 9/1 4pm: "LET'S START THE LABOR DAY WEEKEND LAWYERING: Hamadeh Responds To Sanctions Filing, Fontes Replies One Hour Later"

Hamadeh's legal team filed a short Objection this afternoon, asking the Supreme Court to reconsider awarding sanctions to the Secretary of State's Office for responding to the denied Special Action Petition because, traditionally, "nominal" parties like the AZSOS do not make substantive filings to be reimbursed for.

One hour later, attorneys for the Secretary of State's Office filed a two-page Reply, noting that the Special Action Petition had specifically claimed that the Office's actions (i.e. allegedly hiding details of the recount) were part of the reason to grant the Petition and overturn the dismissal of Hamadeh's Election Contest.

UPDATE, 8/31: "Hamadeh's Supreme Court Sanctions Should Be $13,105; PLUS Court of Appeals (Temporarily) DISMISSES (Separate) Appeal"

(UPDATE, 4pm: Mohave County Superior Court returned our message. "Forthwith" might be before 5pm today.)

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court determined that Hamadeh (and/or his legal team) would have to pay sanctions for a relevant misrepresentation made to the Court in filing their Special Action. The Secretary of State's Attorneys are asking that that sanction be $13,105 (representing their legal fees in defending against it).

The bill for the two weeks' worth of work has been submitted to the Justices and Hamadeh will have a chance to contest it.

In addition, the Court of Appeals yesterday DISMISSED Hamadeh's initial appeal of the contest. The judges granted the defendants' request, agreeing that the appeal was premature until Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen signs his December dismissal of the Election Contest. "Nothing precludes appellant from filing a timely notice of appeal after a final judgment is entered," concluded the Order.

The rebuffs from both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court means Hamadeh does not yet have a substantive appeal. And, even though everyone - including the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court - has tried to prompt Jantzen into wrapping up his part of the case, the contest of the ultra-close Attorney General election from November 2022 is not yet appealable. (Arizona's Law left a(n unreturned) message with Judge Jantzen's courtroom today to double-check.)

*****

Original article, 8/23: "BREAKING, SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD UPDATE: AZ Supreme Court REFUSES To Hear Hamadeh  Special Action, Socks Them With Sanctions  Also orders trial judge to immediately SIGN appealable judgment"

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously sanctioned Abe Hamadeh and/or his legal team for misrepresenting the legal situation in their Special Action Petition directly with the highest court, in an effort to free a stuck court process.

However, the Hamadeh team did succeed in getting it unstuck, as the Court ordered Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen to sign and enter an appealable judgment "forthwith."

As Arizona's Law had discussed when the Special Action was filed, there are limited bases for filing a Special Action with the Supreme Court, and this did not seem to comply with those rules. The Justices pointed to that rule and found that they could not consider the Petition because there was never a specific request for an appealable judgment from the trial court judge.

The Justices summarily denied Hamadeh's request for attorneys' fees, but went into detail as to why Contestee Kris Mayes - who narrowly defeated Hamadeh in the race for Arizona Attorney General - and the Secretary of State's Office were entitled to their fees in knocking down the duplicative Special Action.

"Because Petitioners were not only aware that they needed a final judgment to seek appellate relief but also misrepresented to this Court that they had sought such relief when they had not done so, and because this representation was the underlying premise upon which this petition was brought, and because all of Petitioners’ claims for trial court error can be presented on appeal, we find that the special action unnecessarily expanded the proceeding and compelled Respondents to incur the unnecessary expense of filing their court-ordered responses."

The Court also urged everyone to dial it down as they move forward: " As a final matter, the Court is mindful of the difficulties presented in this extraordinarily close election. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Court advises both sides to focus on the important legal and factual issues presented here and refrain from disparaging their opponents."

Hamadeh's appeal should now move forward more normally. Although today's order notes that Jantzen had issued *an* order within 60 days of the final filings from the parties, the trial court had been holding back on a final order since early February. The parties did file new documents, but part of the reason for that was to nudge the judge to sign an order that could be appealed.

Given today's Supreme Court Order, we *should* expect Judge Jantzen to sign something before the end of the week. Hamadeh's previously-filed Notice of Appeal would then become effective as of that date, and the Court of Appeals process can continue. Currently, the Opening Brief is due October 2. However, one or more of the parties could attempt to expedite the appeal. (If Hamadeh filed his Brief tomorrow, it would speed the case up by six weeks, for example.)

This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich. 

"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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