Friday, September 29, 2023

BREAKING, IT'S FINAL: Arizona Must Cover Employees' Gender Reassignment Surgeries; ALSO: Judge Rejects Petersen/Toma While Reducing AZ's Payment To ACLU

After years of litigation and months of both settlement efforts and disputes about the settlement, a judge today approved a Consent Decree between Arizona and the ACLU. The Decree finds that Arizona's 2017 decision that it would not permit health insurance companies to cover state employees' gender reassignment surgeries is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez also had to resolve several issues that arose out of efforts to resolve the legal challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. For example, she decided to reject Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen's effort to file an amicus brief in the case.

However, Toma and Petersen raised a couple of issues which did impact the rest of Marquez's decision. They argued that an Executive Order from Governor Katie Hobbs earlier this year (that erased Doug Ducey's mandated exclusion) had mooted the later-filed Consent Decree, and that the state should not be responsible for $500,000 of the ACLU's legal fees in bringing the successful challenge.

Judge Marquez decided that Hobbs' Executive Order did NOT moot the Consent Decree, but that it DID lessen the impact of the Consent Decree to binding the state in the future. On that basis, Marquez reduced the $500,000 bill to only $375,000. (She found that the $6.6M in fees incurred by the ACLU's counsel was too high, especially the out-of-state co-counsel's hourly rates. But, that that did not impact her decision to reduce the lower, negotiated amount.)

Arizona's Law published the Consent Decree here. With its approval today, the case is now closed. (Petersen and Toma are not in a good position to appeal.)

***

Later reaction

In response to this article, the Arizona ACLU sent us these reactions from the Plaintiff/state employee Russell Toomey and their senior staff attorney: "The relief from Gov. Hobbs' Executive Order in June of this year was immeasurable. Finding out today that the Federal Judge in my case, the Honorable Márquez, ordered that the removal of the exclusion of gender affirming surgical care from our state employee health insurance is permanent, provides even greater relief,” said Dr. Russell Toomey, the lead plaintiff in the case. “Today, my soul is full of joy knowing that I and other current and future Arizonans will be able receive the medical care coverage necessary to live our lives fully and authentically."

“After nearly five years of litigation, we have finally achieved equal access to healthcare coverage for trans state employees,” said Christine Wee, ACLU of Arizona senior staff attorney. “This is a victory for all state employees defeating this clear violation of federal civil rights law once and for all.”

Also in response to this article, Kari Lake's campaign X-Twitter account responded: "A judge just ruled that our taxpayer money will be used to fund sex changes for state employees. Arizonans are struggling thanks to Biden’s economy. Now we are forced to foot the bill for radical sexual reassignment. We didn’t vote for this. Activists made the decision for us."

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. 

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

UPDATE: Judge Holds Phoenix Responsible For $220,000 In Attorneys' Fees In Homeless "Zone" Lawsuit (READ Order)

11/20, 1pm: Judge Scott Blaney today ordered Phoenix taxpayers to reimburse local businesses for the $220,000 in attorneys' fees and costs they incurred in forcing the City to clear out the homeless "Zone" in central Phoenix.

*****

Original article, 9/20: "BREAKING: Businesses in Phoenix's Homeless "Zone" Granted Permanent Injunction; Phoenix Has Until Nov. 4 To Remove Tents, Etc."

In a 27-page Order, Maricopa County Superior Judge Scott Blaney gave Phoenix until November 4 to clear out the homeless "Zone" in central Phoenix, granting local businesses the permanent injunction they sought to deal with the public nuisance.

Blaney had issued a temporary injunction iu March, and noted that the city has had "nearly two years" since the plaintiffs had first sought help from the City Council. The tents and makeshift structures must be gone and the city is to keep the public property free of "biohazardous materials including human feces and urine, drug paraphernalia and other trash".

Blaney notes that the City has begun moving forward on a "structured campground" separate from the Zone.

Beyond the public policy embodied in the statutes above, the public interest counsels that the City take immediate action to protect the homeless individuals residing in squalor in the Zone from the many risks and dangers identified throughout this Ruling. “Immediate action” means abating the public nuisance in which they reside and developing temporary shelter space for those that truly need it. It does not mean leaving the public nuisance in place and allowing it to fester while the City pursues development of long-term plans of permanent supportive housing.

The Court will conduct a follow-up hearing on November 30, but plans to award attorneys' fees and issue a judgment in October.

Phoenix's homeless Zone received local attention, and national attention from media such as the New York Times.

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. 

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Updates on Arizona's 3 Ongoing 2022 Election Contest Cases!

 SHORT ANSWERS:

1) Kari Lake's Election Contest (Governor race) is in the intermediate Court of Appeals (Division 2). She just filed her Opening Brief.

2) Abe Hamadeh's Election Contest in the ultra-close (280) Attorney General race is in the strange purgatory time period between filing the Notice of Appeal in the trial court and the Court of Appeals docketing it.

3) Mark Finchem's Election Contest in the ultra-not-close Secretary of State race is in the Court of Appeals. He has dropped his substantive appeal of the dismissal and is only contesting the $48,000 in sanctions assessed by the trial court after dismissing the case. (Although he did pay the sanctions.)

TO THE MOUNTAINTOP... WHERE THEY'VE BEEN:

All three contests have already made visits or neo-visits to the Arizona Supreme Court. The Justices affirmed the dismissal of all but one of Lake's counts, and sent that last one back for a trial (held in May). The Justices also recently rebuffed Lake's efforts to bring her first appeal straight to the highest court, and her attempt to block the (random) transfer of the second appeal to Division 2.

Happier times (photo by Gage Skidmore)

Hamadeh's attorneys filed a Special Action Petition directly with the Justices, because his trial judge was not signing a final, appealable judgment. That Petition was quickly dismissed, and sanctions were ordered. Hamadeh just filed an objection to the amount of fees being sought by Kris Mayes' attorneys. 

And Finchem had initially floated the idea that he might take his appeal directly to the Supreme Court (as is permitted under the Rules in some instances). He never did, but the Supreme Court caused some confusion by opening up a docket "in anticipation". They caused some (continuing) confusion on December 28 when they issued an Order closing that docket.

WHAT'S NEXT

1) Lake: The defendants'/appellees' Answering Briefs are due by October 26 - although they can file them sooner. A Reply Brief is then due by 20 days. No effort to expedite the briefing schedule was made, and Lake waited nearly two months after the appeal was transferred to Division 2 before filing her Brief at the deadline.

2) Hamadeh: The Court of Appeals will soon docket both Hamadeh's most recent appeal (the first one was dismissed as premature) and the defendants' Cross-Appeals (on the denial of sanctions). Hamadeh's attorneys have indicated that they will try to expedite the briefing schedule.

3) Finchem: Answering Briefs are due by October 10. No expediting efforts made.

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. 

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

SANCTIONS SCOREBOARD UPDATE(S), HAMADEH EDITION: (1) Mayes and Secy of State APPEAL DENIAL of Sanctions In Trial Court, (2) Hamadeh OBJECTS To Sanctions In Supreme Court

While Abe Hamadeh's slow-rolling 2022 Election Contest of the ultra-close Attorney General race is still in a legal system purgatory between the trial court and the appellate courts (see accompanying article), the fur is flying with sanctions filings above and below.

Above, in the Arizona Supreme Court, the Hamadeh legal team is OBJECTING to the Justices' Order imposing sanctions on them for their quickly-denied Special Action Petition. Hamadeh attorney Tim LaSota filed the objection to Contestee (not in her official capacity) Kris Mayes' $42,000+ legal bill - but not the Secretary of State's $13,000 application.

LaSota attempted to thread a difficult needle, again justifying why their Special Action was warranted while trying to claim the fees are excessive because it did not take much expertise or effort for Mayes to defeat it. He then asks the Justices to stay (some but not all?) the sanctions because Hamadeh may be awarded sanctions in the coming substantive appeal, and they could offset. (He is threatening sanctions based on the alleged hiding of the recount information from the election contest case.)

The Objection also takes aim at Perkins Coie's time spent and hourly rates. "The work they performed was excessive in contrast to the relatively simple task of opposing the Petition for Special Action on procedural grounds.... In addition, the rates charged are plainly too high.... These are apparently “discounted” rates, but they are still excessive."*

Below, both Mayes and the Secretary of State's Office have filed Notice(s) of Cross Appeal. They intend to ask the Court of Appeals to REVERSE Judge Lee Jantzen's (eventual) denial of sanctions in the trial court.

"Perkins Coie - the so-called discount election lawyers! It's about time!"

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. 

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

Monday, September 18, 2023

NEW: "Uncharted Territory" - Lake's Attorneys File Appeal(?) Brief Morphing Their Election Contest Into Demand For 2022 Election Re-Do, Sling Sabotage and Perjury Allegations (READ Brief)

Kari Lake's have apparently given up challenging the results of the 2022 gubernatorial election. Instead, their appeal brief slings new allegations alleging that Maricopa County officials intentionally sabotaged the election and then perjured themselves. They tell the Court of Appeals judges that a new trial would be "futile". So, instead of correcting alleged errors by the trial judge, they ask the appellate court to just order a new election.

Besides not being how either Election Constests or appeals work, the 61-page Opening Brief devotes nearly half of its bulk addressing "new evidence" about Maricopa County's certifications of the Vote Center tabulators that helped cause Election Day issues. Those ballots were either later tabulated at the central processing office or were re-cast by voters.

The problems with that are that the Arizona Supreme Court already denied appeals based on those issues, ONLY sending back how Maricopa County applied signature verification policies to the trial court. Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson held a (second) trial in May on that issue. The printers and tabulators were no longer a live part of Lake's Election Contest.

Lake filed her Opening Brief on the September 15 deadline. She initially filed this Notice of Appeal on May 31, and could have filed this brief several weeks earlier. (It is not usually a period of time in which an appellant is looking for "new evidence".) The defendants - the Secretary of State's Office and Contestee Katie Hobbs - have until October 26 to file an Answering Brief. Lake then has up to 20 days to file a Reply.

Chandler attorney Tom Ryan gave his blunt assessment to Arizona's Law: "The Dynamic Duo of Kurt Olsen and Bryan Blehm double down on false, baseless and previously dismissed claims, wasting taxpayer money again. Division II of the Arizona Court of Appeals will have no problem making quick work of this fiasco. May this truly be the last of the 2022 the frivolous election contest cases."

(This is a developing situation. Please check back for updates.)

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. 

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

 



Friday, September 15, 2023

UPDATE: Arizona Pays Feds' $2.1M Bill For Shipping Container Border Wall Remediation, Case Dismissed

Arizona pays its bills, and it has paid the $2.1M remediation bill from the U.S. government for the shipping container border wall. The U.S. dismissed its lawsuit against Governor Ducey-then-Hobbs today, indicating the check went through.

The total cost to Arizona taxpayers for the stunt (the containers were said to be ineffectual) was more than $163M.

The federal government sued because it alleged Arizona had placed the containers on land along the border that it was not permitted to use.


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. 

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

Thursday, September 14, 2023

BREAKING UPDATE: 9th Circuit Temporarily STOPS Depositions of Warren Petersen/Ben Toma In Voter Registration/Citizenship Case (READ Order)

BREAKING UPDATE, 10/12, 4:15pm: "9th Circuit Temporarily STOPS Depositions of Warren Petersen/Ben Toma In Voter Registration/Citizenship Case"

In a 2-1 decision this afternoon, the 9th Circuit has stopped depositions of Arizona legislative leaders Warren Petersen and Ben Toma in connection with an upcoming trial on the constitutionality of 2022 laws passed impacting voter registration and citizenship in Arizona. 

The lawmakers are invoking legislative privilege, but District Court Judge Susan Bolton had decided that they had waived that privilege when they moved to intervene in the legal challenge. 

Judges Callahan and Bennett said the lawmakers' appeal "raises issues that warrant an answer" and they set a briefing schedule deadline of October 25. They invited Judge Bolton to respond either by filing an answer with the 9th Circuit or issuing a supplemental order in her Court.

A different three-judge panel will consider the merits of the appeal in November. The case is currently set for trial on November 6, and this temporary stay could prompt a delay.

Judge Fletcher disagreed with the temporary stay.

BREAKING UPDATE, 10/2, 4:45pm: "Petersen/Toma File Mandamus Petition With 9th Circuit To Protect Their Legislative Privilege Before Trial On Challenged Laws About Voter Registration and Citizenship (READ Petition)"

As promised, Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen have gone to the 9th Circuit petitioning for a writ of mandamus to protect their legislative privilege. The 9th Circuit set deadlines today and is on track to decide the matter by next Tuesday.

Petersen and Toma moved late to intervene in a legal challenge to two laws passed last year that have caused a lot of confusion about purging voter rolls in Arizona and possibly unregistering thousands of long-time citizens in the process. 

In advance of the November 6 trial, Judge Susan Bolton decided that the lawmakers had waived their legislative privilege by intervening, and would have to answer questions and provide documents about why they passed the laws.

HB2492 requires proof of citizenship and proof of location of residence be provided along with the voter registration form. This received a lot of attention last year partly because there was confusion as to how - and, how many - longtime registered voters might be impacted by the new requirements. HB2243 deals with how voter registrations must be investigated and possibly canceled by County Recorders. The two laws were passed and signed by Republicans in 2022, and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

Petersen and Toma asked Bolton to stay the Order while they appealed. She refused, and they filed a Petition and Emergency Motion with the 9th Circuit on Friday. Today, the court asked for a Response by Wednesday, with a Reply being due Friday. (Toma and Petersen asked for a decision by next Tuesday.)

UPDATE, 9/26, 1:50pm: "UPDATE: Judge Orders AZ Free Enterprise Club to partly back up its braggadocio about passing challenged laws about voter registration and citizenship"

Judge Bolton issued a second Order today, partly agreeing with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club's effort to quash subpoenas about its involvement in the 2022 passage of HB2492. However, she is requiring AZFEC to produce relevant documents they believed proving that non-citizens were voting in Arizona and how they believed the new laws would impact eligible Arizona voters.

Some of the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the laws asked for many years of the dark money AZFEC's records and donor lists, and wanted to conduct a deposition. Bolton found that to be way too "wide-ranging". 

"While FEC brags on its website that it was responsible for the passage of the voting laws and has blog posts with titles such as “How More Illegals Started Voting in AZ Elections and How House Bill 2492 Is Going to Fix It,” this does not open non-party, FEC to wide-ranging discovery about all its internal and external documents related in any way to elections issues and FEC’s advocacy and expenditures over many years. Much of what is sought is irrelevant to the primary issues before the Court for trial. For example, FEC’s opinions about the legality and constitutionality of the voting laws is not relevant. And as Equity Coalition points out, FEC doesn’t even have a lawyer on its staff. Many of the documents requested likely violate FEC’s First Amendment Rights."

Bolton noted that the rest of the discovery - including Toma and Petersen's non-legislative-privilege-protected answers - will produce relevant communications with AZFEC. With that in mind, she did order them to turn over:

"The Court will order FEC to produce the documents described in categories 1, 6 and 8. Any research or other documents in FEC’s possession that would demonstrate whether non-citizens were voting, how the voting laws would impact Arizonans eligible to vote and election outcomes, and information on the reliability and availability of the databases referenced in the voting laws are relevant. If FEC has no such documents in any of these categories, it shall provide Equity Coalition with a Declaration under oath to that effect."

 

UPDATE, 9/26, 12:30pm: "BREAKING UPDATE: Judge Slams Petersen/Toma's Slow Stay Request and Promise To Send the 9th Circuit After Her Legislative Privilege Waiver Ruling (READ Order)"

Judge Susan Bolton BLISTERED a request by Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma to stay her ruling that they waived their legislative privilege in a case challenging voter registration/citizenship laws passed in 2022.

After noting that they waited eight days to file an expedited request to stay the ruling, she also found their promise to obtain a mandamus order from the 9th Circuit (which they have not yet requested) unpersuasive. "They re-argue the arguments already rejected by this Court in its September 25, 2023 Order. Moreover, as pointed out by the Non-U.S. Plaintiffs, they have wholly failed to show any likelihood of receiving relief from the Court of Appeals on a request for the extraordinary relief of mandamus on a discovery order."

Bolton also noted that the stay would push back their deadline to respond to discovery requests to only one month before the November 6 trial date. She agreed with the plaintiffs that the lawmakers could produce the discovery under a Protective Order.

Petersen and Toma are represented by Kevin O'Malley at Gallagher & Kennedy.

(I am also posting Judge Bolton's September 14 Order limiting what will be at issue in the November 6 trial. The judge issued two separate orders on the 14th, and Arizona's Law only posted about the legislative privilege order, while the Arizona Republic focused only on the other. I understand that this caused some confusion, and I apologize for that. Read the last three pages of the Order for her decisions on the various issues.)

*****

ORIGINAL ARTICLE, 9/14: "BREAKING: Oops, Petersen/Toma's Aggressive Intervention Strategy Backfires In Arizona Voter Registration/Citizenship Lawsuits (READ Order)"

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen's aggressive strategy of intervening in court cases backfired today, as a judge ruled that they waived their legislative privilege in a challenge to voter registration/citizenship laws passed last year.

Democrats will now be able to depose Toma and Petersen and to obtain otherwise-privileged communications into why they passed HB2243 and HB2492 in 2022. Democrats, Native American and progressive groups challenged the laws claiming they were discriminatory and would illegally disenfranchise thousands of voters.

HB2492 requires proof of citizenship and proof of location of residence be provided along with the voter registration form. This received a lot of attention last year partly because there was confusion as to how - and, how many - longtime registered voters might be impacted by the new requirements. HB2243 deals with how voter registrations must be investigated and possibly canceled by County Recorders. The two laws were passed and signed by Republicans in 2022, and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

The matter is set for trial beginning on November 6.

Judge Susan Bolton was not persuaded by Toma and Petersen's arguments that their intervention into the case could be distinguished from existing case law where the privilege was waived. 

Like the defendants in Powell, the Legislators “are not seeking immunity from this suit,” but instead seek to “actively participate in this litigation” yet avoid the burden of discovery regarding their legislative activities. Plaintiffs did not seek discovery from the Legislators until the Legislators sought to “fully defend the laws passed by the legislature.” The Legislators also specifically put their own motives for passing the Voting Laws at issue when denying Plaintiffs’ allegations that the Arizona Legislature enacted the Voting Laws with discriminatory intent.

She did decide that Toma's and Petersen's intervention did NOT waive the legislative privilege for the other lawmakers who helped pass the bills.

The Speaker and the President have waived their legislative privilege as to information about their motives for the Voting Laws. The Speaker and President must produce communications that they have sent or received relating to the Voting Laws’ legislative process and have withheld on legislative privilege grounds. They may also be deposed about their personal involvement in the Voting Laws’ legislative process. Plaintiffs may not however conduct a 30(b)(6) deposition of the Arizona Legislature.

 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. 

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

Friday, September 8, 2023

BREAKING: PAC-12 Breakup Heads To Conference Family Court On MONDAY (READ Complaint)

ASU's Michael Crow and UA's Bobby Robbins (in addition to the 8 other university Presidents) are incentivized to harm what remains of the PAC-12 conference at next week's meeting. Therefore, Washington State and Oregon State filed suit today to prevent the 10 departing members from participating in future meetings.

(On the same side now)

The Complaint was filed in Washington state court, against the PAC-12 Conference and its (soon-to-be) outgoing Commissioner George Kliavkoff. A Board Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Judge Gary Libey has set a hearing on a Temporary Restraining Order for Monday morning (11am).

UA and ASU - along with Colorado and Utah - are joining the Big 12(?) Conference next year. USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington are joining the Big 10(?), and Cal and Stanford are joining the Atlantic(?) Coast Conference.

(In happier days)

OSU and WSU are looking at their options of "preserving" the Conference, which would likely involve recruiting most or all of the universities in the (less prestigious) Mountain West Conference. They accuse the other 12 universities of having the opposite intent: "On the contrary, they are now motivated to dissolve the Pac-12 - against which their new conferences will otherwise compete beginning next year - and distribute the assets.

In other words, the two remaining schools want to keep the possibly-substantial ($40M?) reserve funds, the future revenue from past performance in the mens' basketball tournaments, etc.

Instead of Sparky and Wilbur fighting each other, they - and 8 other mascots - will be doing courtroom battle with the Beaver and Cougar.

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. 

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

NEW: Fmr Supreme Court Justice Asks (Fmr) Colleagues To Overturn District-Like Retention Elections For Court of Appeals' Judges (READ Petition)

A former Arizona Supreme Court Justice today petitioned his former colleagues to overturn part of the judicial retention election process.

Teaming up with the Goldwater Institute, Justice Andrew Gould is trying to abolish the district-like system, which they say disenfranchise voters outside of Maricopa County. The Petition (below) raises some interesting points about a system that they say is a vestige of an earlier time in Arizona when voters actually elected judges. (In 1974, Arizonans went to a ground-breaking merit selection and retention system.)

The Court of Appeals - in between the trial courts (Superior Courts) and the Supreme Court - is split into two Divisions. Division 1 is Maricopa County and most of the northern counties in Arizona. Division 2 is Pima County and most of the southern portion of the state. 

Division 1 is larger, and the statutes currently mandate that the 19 judges are 10 from Maricopa, 5 from the others and 4 at-larges. Divison 2 has 4 from Pima, 2 from the others and 3 at-larges. 

Even with this weighting, a disproportionate amount of cases are filed in Division 1, and the Legislature last year passed a statute that permitted the two Divisions to transfer cases to maintain proportionality. Currently, for example, every 7th civil appeal in Division 1 is transferred to Division 2.

This became more widely-known recently when Kari Lake's Election Contest appeal was randomly transferred. It is unclear whether that transfer sparked Justice Gould's interest in the subject.

Voters in Maricopa County vote on the retention of the 10 judges who must be from Maricopa County, plus whichever of the at-larges are from Maricopa County. Division 1 residents outside Maricopa County vote on the retention of the 5 required to be from outside Maricopa County and whichever at-larges are from the non-Maricopa County. And, so on.

Today's Petition notes that (a) 10-14 judges are retained (or not) only by the 4.5M Maricopa County residents, 5-9 judges are  retained (or not) by 1M non-Maricopa County residents (in Div. 1), 4-7 by 1M Pima County residents, and 2-5 by 750K non-Pima County residents (in Div. 2); and (2) that all of these judges make law that impacts the entire state.

The Petition asks the Supreme Court to find the statutes violate Arizona's Constitutional provisions (Free and Equal Elections Clause, and Equal Protections and Immunities Clause), and to order the Secretary of State's Office to order all 15 counties to place all of the Court of Appeals Judges asking to be retained on their ballots.

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. 

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


Friday, September 1, 2023

FINALLY FINAL! All Parties In Hamadeh Election Contest Cooperate To Help Trial Judge Resolve Remaining Issues, Send Case To Appeals Court (READ Stip, Order)

UPDATE, 9/7, 7:30am: "FINALLY FINAL! All Parties In Hamadeh Election Contest Cooperate To Help Trial Judge Resolve Remaining Issues, Send Case To Appeals Court"

Attorneys for Abe Hamadeh and all the (key) Defendants in the long-languishing Election Contest finally got Judge Lee Jantzen to sign a final Final Judgment, and sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for good.

After last week's final order dismissing the case left open the issue of compensation for the ballot inspectors, Hamadeh's legal team were concerned that the appellate judges would again tell them the appeal was premature. So, attorneys for all of the parties presented Judge Jantzen yesterday with an agreement on the compensation AND a form of judgment for him to sign (both, below).

And, lo and behold, he did sign it. Hamadeh quickly filed their Notice of Appeal, confident that it would not be again kicked out. (Unfortunately, unless there is an agreement to expedite, the briefing schedule will be reset for farther in the future. Hamadeh has indicated that they will ask for the appeal to be expedited.)

*****

ORIGINAL ARTICLE, 9/1: "CELEBRATE! Judge Signs Order DISMISSING Hamadeh Election Contest, Clears Way (Finally) For APPEAL; DENIES Sanctions (READ Order)"

The long-awaited final order dismissing Abe Hamadeh's Election Contest for the ultra-close 2022 Attorney General race has been signed. This clears the way for Hamadeh to finally appeal the determination.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen has been hanging on to the case since late December, and he finally DENIED the defendants' requests for sanctions and cleared up the other outstanding motions.

Within the past week, the Arizona Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have dismissed two efforts by Hamadeh's attorneys to begin the appellate process (and the former sanctioned Hamadeh for misleading the court about the lower court status). Hamadeh can begin again today.

Judge Jantzen did offer a bit of a reason for his long delay, claiming the (January 4) Motion for a New Trial kept him from signing the original denial. His reason for not ruling on the Motion for a New Trial back in February was that supplemental filings kept resetting his 60-day (maximum) limit for ruling. 

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. 

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