Thursday, February 29, 2024

BREAKING: Judge THROWS OUT Parts of Pair of 2022 Arizona Election Laws; Republican Leaders Testified they Had No Evidence Of Non-Citizens Registered To Vote In AZ (READ Order)

In a comprehensive ruling, a federal judge today threw out parts of Arizona laws passed in 2022 addressing voter registration and citizenship. Her decisions that portions violated the Civil Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act came after Republican legislative leaders (Toma, Petersen) testifies that they had no evidence of non-citizens registered to vote here (nor that there was any evidence of non-citizen voter fraud).

Judge Susan Bolton's 109-page ruling followed a 10-day trial last year, and analyzed the pair of laws that had resulted in concerns that thousands of long-time voters might be purged from the registration rolls because they had not provided documentary proof of citizenship back when they had registered.

The Court finds that though it may occur, non-citizens voting in Arizona is quite rare, and non-citizen voter fraud in Arizona is rarer still. But while the Voting Laws are not likely to meaningfully reduce possible non-citizen voting in Arizona, they could help to prevent non-citizens from registering or voting.

The ruling prevents Arizona County Recorders from rejecting voter registrations on state forms simply because the person did not fill in their state or country of birth. Plaintiffs successfully argued that that is not a material reason to determine whether or not the registrant is a citizen.

Similarly, Bolton found that the part of the bill that gave County Recorders the right to investigate and cancel a voter registration if they "ha(ve) reason to believe" the person is not a citizen would subject naturalized citizens to different standards than native-born citizens.

The ruling also says that Arizona cannot reject state form registrtions that are not accompanied by documentary proof of citizenship, but should instead register those people as "Federal Only Voter(s)".

Bolton found that other arguments from the wide group of plaintiffs were not proven - including that the Republican-dominated Legislature enacted the laws "with any discriminatory purpose". She also upheld the "remaining citizenship investigation procedures, DPOC requirements, and registration cancellation procedures".

"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, February 26, 2024

Arizona one of 8 states joining U.S. FTC in suing to block Kroger (Fry's)/Albertson's-Safeway merger

 Arizona AG Kris Mayes, the FTC and several other states are suing to BLOCK the Fry's (Kroger)/Safeway-Albertson's merger.

The case has been filed in federal court in Oregon. The state of Washington already filed their own case to block it, and the Pac NW also has a big overlap between Kroger and Albertson's/Safeway - like AZ.

The FTC and AZ allege that the proposed Kroger/Albertson's merger would create grocery monopolies in: Flagstaff; LHC-Kingman; Payson, Phx-Mesa-Chandler; Prescott Valley-Prescott; Sierra Vista-Douglas; Tucson; Yuma.

Also, AZ is 1 of 15 states where both are UFCW workplaces. The allegations about the unionization are that the merger will allow them to offer lower wages/worse packages to the union.  

The companies have agreed to a TRO, keeping the merger from closing until there's a ruling.

"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, February 19, 2024

BREAKING: Trump and Lake Allies Expand Elections Lawsuit Against Maricopa County; 3 COCONINO County Practices Now Under Attack (READ Amended Complaint)

Allies of Kari Lake and Donald Trump have expanded their latest elections lawsuit against Maricopa County, adding heavily Democratic Coconino County.


The lawsuit filed by Trump-allied America First Legal on behalf of Lake-allied Strong Communities Foundation was filed earlier this month to relitigate several of the issues Maricopa County has been attacked for during the 2022 elections, and hoping to change some of them for 2024.

At a Thursday hearing, attorneys (James Rogers and Jennifer Wright) told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jay Adleman that they would file an Amended Complaint later that day to add Coconino County. Arizona's Law has confirmed that it was filed and has acquired that new document (not yet on the docket, below). 

It accuses the northern Arizona county - which includes Flagstaff and a sizable portion of the Navajo Nation - of also improperly cancelling voter's registrations and phone-curing early ballots, as well as allowing unstaffed ballot drop boxes. (The lawsuit also accuses Maricopa County of all of these.)

Drop boxes for early ballots has become a flash point for disagreements, and this case could help iron that out. Arizona statutes do not set forth restrictions on how or where counties can set up drop boxes. The Amended Complaint utilizes the law prohibiting so-called "ballot harvesting" to suggest that counties must have someone standing next to the drop box at all times.*

They head to the dictionary for the definition of "staffed", and then have to look at "unstaffed." Their conclusion: "Thus, whenever “elections officials” are not present, a drop box is not “staffed,” and providing such a drop box is a class 5 felony. Accordingly, the Defendants’ providing of unstaffed drop boxes is unlawful. Indeed, doing so is a crime."

The lack of statutory clarity and the changes in explanations provided by the old and new versions of the Elections Procedures Manual did lead Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen to tell Votebeat reporter Jen Fifield "Holy cow!" Hansen and the other County Recorders were later assured by State Elections Director Colleen Connor that the drop boxes could be unstaffed as long as they are secured.

This lawsuit could test that interpretation, as well as counties' interpretations/procedures on calling voters to cure their early ballot signature issues and cancelling voters' registrations if there is an inter-county address change reported by ADOT.

The parties are also fighting on whether the case should be heard in Maricopa County or somewhere else. The plaintiffs filed there, but quickly asked it to be moved to Yavapai County - which they believe will be more friendly to Republican interests. 

Maricopa County plans to ask the judge to dismiss them from the case as incorrect parties. If that is unsuccessful, they would like the court either keep the case in Phoenix or move it to Pima County.

Judge Adleman repeatedly noted that there are "multiple layers of chicken and egg issues" before he and the attorneys agreed to first address the Motion to Dismiss (to be filed by Wednesday), then (if necessary) the venue, and then (if necessary) a motion by Democratic-allied groups to intervene.

Strong Communities was started and is run by Merissa Hamilton. U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake has tapped Hamilton to head up a significant part of her campaign - getting Lake supporters to return their early ballots.

An interesting side note: Maricopa County has their usual crack in-house team of elections-focused attorneys on the case, but has also retained the services of Snell & Wilmer's Brett Johnson. Johnson and his team typically represent Republican-related interests.

*The anti-"harvesting" provision differentiates between a drop box that a private person or group might set up and one that is "established and staffed by election officials" (A.R.S. §16-1005(E))

"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, February 16, 2024

BREAKING: No Labels Asks Judge For $160,000 Attorneys' Fees From Arizona Secretary of State In Suit To Stop Rogue No Labels Candidates

The No Labels party may have failed today in their effort to recruit Joe Manchin to run for President, but they also asked a federal judge this afternoon to order Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes to reimburse them for $160,000 in attorneys' fees.

The request was filed late this afternoon in federal court in a case where they successfully prevented Arizonans from getting on the November ballot as No Labels candidates. Three candidates had already filed Statements of Interest for the U.S. Senate seat, a Congressional race and a State House contest.

Attorneys for Fontes unsuccessfully argued that once No Labels became a recognized political party in Arizona, they had to abide by the same statutes as the Democratic and Republican parties by allowing party members to run for any office on the ballot. 

Judge John Tuchi agreed that Fontes' office did not violate the statutes by accepting the Statements of Interest, but that No Labels still had a constitutional right to ONLY run candidates for the Presidency.

The Secretary of State has appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit, but Judge Tuchi this week refused to stay his decision in the interim.

"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, February 7, 2024

NEW, UPDATE: Kari Lake AMENDS Financial Disclosure Statement To Add Trust; No Indication It's To Protect Assets From Richer

There was plenty of coverage* of the new financial disclosure statement filed with the U.S. Senate by Kari Lake. And that reporting may have prompted Lake to file her (first) AMENDED statement this past weekend.

Instead of owning ZenVideo, LLC as wife and husband, Lake and Jeffrey Halperin (her husband) actually own it - estimated to be worth between $100,000 to $250,000 - as part of their living trust.

The video production company has not earned Lake any income during the past year-plus (per the disclosure statement), and it does not appear that Lake either recently placed it in the trust nor placed it there with the intent to protect the assets from creditors. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer recently filed a defamation lawsuit against Lake regarding her statements about the elections.

The trust appears to be the type of living trust which would not be protected from judgment enforcement. Lake and her husband placed two pieces of real property into the trust in late 2021, and those documents indicate that the trust is revocable and that they are the beneficiaries. People often use such trusts as part of their estate planning.

Those properties appear to be their home and a condominium, both in the Biltmore area. While a personal home is not required to be listed in the Senate's disclosure statements, Lake does list a rental condo that she is receiving rent of between $1,250-4,165 per month. (The disclosure statement does not list it as a trust asset, and that might require a second amendment.)

(POSTSCRIPT: As noted, Lake lists the condo as being worth between $100-250,000. The Maricopa County Assessor's most recent "full cash value" - which is typically lower than market value - as $273,300.)

*First reported by Brahm Resnik, Channel 12.

"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.

BREAKING: AZ House Speaker Toma & Senate Pres. Petersen Waived Leg Privilege, Must Sit For Depos In Transgender Sports Case; But, Minor Girls Do, Too

In a twist this afternoon, a judge issued an Order compelling Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen to sit for...