Wednesday, December 20, 2023

BREAKING UPDATE: Kari Lake Convinces AZ Supreme Court To Grant Brief STAY In Stephen Richer Defamation Proceeding

UPDATE, 1/17, 8:30am: "BREAKING UPDATE: Kari Lake Convinces AZ Supreme Court To Grant Brief STAY In Stephen Richer Defamation Proceeding"

The Arizona Supreme Court granted Kari Lake a temporary stay in the defamation case filed against her by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. 

In an Order issued late yesterday, the Court emphasized that the stay was only a short-term measure while they consider whether to accept Lake's appeal of a decision that the case not be dismissed at the earliest stage. They gave Richer three weeks (Feb. 6) to respond to Lake's Petition for Review.

"IT IS ORDERED that proceedings in the superior court are stayed for the limited purpose of obtaining a response to the Petition for Review."

This puts a halt to discovery and planned depositions, something Lake has been pushing for at every court level.

Lake is represented before the Supreme Court by private attorneys Jennifer Wright and Tim LaSota, as well as ASU Law's First Amendment Clinic.

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UPDATE, 1/10, 11am: "BREAKING: Kari Lake's Special Action Appeal In Stephen Richer Defamation Immediately DISMISSED By Appeals Court"

Arizona's Law has received confirmation that, without giving Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer an opportunity to oppose it, the Court of Appeals today DISMISSED the Special Action appeal filed last week by Kari Lake. 

Lake was challenging the trial judge's refusal to dismiss Richer's lawsuit claiming Lake repeatedly defamed him with false attacks about the 2022 elections process. The appellate judges refused to accept jurisdiction of the Special Action, and the case will continue at the trial court level.

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UPDATE, 1/5, 11am: "UPDATE: Kari Lake Files Special Action Appeal Challenging Judge's Refusal To Dismiss Stephen Richer's Defamation Case Against Her"

(11:45am: Special Action Petition added.)

Kari Lake and her fundraising committee have filed a Special Action appeal challenging last month's decision to proceed with Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer's defamation case.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jay Adleman DENIED Lake's twin Motions to Dismiss on December 20 (below), permitting the case to move forward. The new appeal challenges Adleman's conclusions on both motions. Although we have not yet seen the Special Action Petition, ASU Law School's First Amendment Clinic is listed as co-representing Lake. That indicates that she Lake is challenging the denial of the anti-SLAPP Motion, as well as the denial of her Motion claiming that Richer has no way of succeeding in the defamation action.

On the anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation") decision, the ASU Law School's First Amendment Clinic (continues to) claim that the burden shifts to Richer to prove that he is not simply trying to stifle Lake's campaign rhetoric simply because he has filed a defamation case, "particularly in the context of a political campaign". Judge Adleman rejected that argument.

On the other Motion to Dismiss, Lake argues that her comments attacking Richer are protected by the First Amendment and were "substantially true". (She states that he should resign if he cannot handle her criticisms.) She attempts to get around the issue that those are defenses to be brought up later in a case by noting that she had offered other documents and that Richer had his chance when the judge in her failed Election Contest refused to grant sanctions against Lake.

The deadline for Richer to respond to the Petition is January 18.

(We will update this once we have received and reviewed the Special Action Petition.)

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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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