Wednesday, March 20, 2024

BREAKING UPDATE: Judge Says Kari Lake Lost "All Rights To Litigate the Merits" of the Defamation Case, Asks Parties to Meet and Confer About Discovery and Mediation

UPDATE, 3/28, 7am: "BREAKING UPDATE: Judge Says Kari Lake Lost "All Rights To Litigate the Merits" of the Defamation Case, Asks Parties to Meet and Confer About Discovery and Mediation"

Leaving little doubt of what he thinks of Kari Lake's legal maneuver of admitting default, the judge hearing the case wrote that she "effectively concede(d)" and ordered her attorneys to seriously meet and confer with Stephen Richer's attorneys about discovery and setting up a settlement conference or mediation.

Judge Jay Adleman took the case back from the Court Commissioners' calendar with yesterday's Minute Entry (posted this morning), and noted that Lake's default comes with a well-established price: "a defaulted party loses all rights to litigate the merits of the cause of action."

Lake tried to take the steering wheel on what happens next, but Adleman grabbed it back, and

gave the parties three weeks to meet about agreeing to a discovery schedule and either a settlement conference or mediation. He set a status conference for April 24 to make sure everyone is moving forward.


UPDATE, 3/26, 2pm: "BREAKING: Lake Intentionally Defaults,Accepts Responsibility For Defaming Stephen Richer Re: Election Claims (NEWS ANALYSIS)"

In a highly-unusual legal maneuver, Kari Lake allowed herself to be defaulted in Stephen Richer's defamation lawsuit against her. The deadline to file an Answer passed last night, and today she filed a Motion to move toward a default judgment hearing.

Such a Motion is (almost) always filed by the Plaintiff in the case. But, Lake's attorneys* believe that they can force embarrassing discovery against Richer before the limited hearing on what remedies the court will grant Richer.

Claiming that Lake did not just admit all of the allegations in Richer's Complaint - they claim that that is a "misnomer" - the attorneys signaled their intent to question Richer about the mental health issues Lake's repeated attacks on Richer and the election system caused. They also want to find out what campaign contributions he may have lost because of the attacks.

Lake is likely correct that the perception that a default is akin to admitting everything is somewhat overstated, and that Richer will still have to prove up the causation issue. (The link between Lake's statements/actions and the claimed harm.) However, in a default hearing, it is unlikely that Judge Jay Adleman (or a Commissioner) will give Lake the same leeway as if it was a trial on the merits.

On the other side, Richer and his attorneys have been chomping at the bit to depose Lake and conduct other discovery on the damages issues. 

Richer said that, “(b)ecause of their actions, my family and I have faced an endless barrage of threats—including calls for our execution—I have lost close personal relationships, and I have had my reputation irreparably damaged. I have said from the beginning that no one is above the rule of law and today further validates that belief. I look forward to entering the damages phase of this case.”

Anticipating today's filing, Richer's legal team yesterday asked for sanctions against Lake's attorneys and/or Lake for the delays.

* ASU's First Amendment Clinic has been listed as co-counsel at every stage of the case so far. However, they are not participating in today's maneuver.

UPDATE, 3/25, 5pm: "Richer Asks For Sanctions, Accuses Lake of Intentionally Defaulting In Defamation Case and Playing Other Games To Delay Discovery"

In an unusual filing, Stephen Richer's attorney is asking the judge to impose sanctions on Kari Lake and/or her attorneys for intentionally defaulting in the defamation case simply to delay depositions and other discovery.

Arizona's Law reported last week on the default, which becomes effective only if Lake does not file an Answer before midnight tonight. Today, Richer told the judge that not only was the default an intentional ploy to delay discovery, but that Lake's attorneys have been playing other games to delay.

The Motion asks Judge Jay Adleman to enter an offered Scheduling Order and procedures for exchanging electronically stored information ("ESI"). Further, it asks for Lake's attorneys (and/or Lake) to be sanctioned.

Arizona's Law has asked both sides whether an Answer has yet been filed, and will update as warranted. The electronic filing window is open 24/7, so it could be filed at 11:59pm. (However, it would not be shown on the Court's public docket for another few days.)


Original article, 3/20: "BREAKING OOPS: After Supreme Court Rejection, Kari Lake Defaults To Stephen Richer In Defamation Suit"

Kari Lake has defaulted in the defamation suit brought by Maricopa County Recorder. Her attorneys' oops is not fatal to her defense, and it follows the swift rejections of her appeals to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Richer's attorneys appropriately entered the default last week after the Supreme Court's rejection (earlier this month). By Arizona's court rules, the default does not become effective if Lake files an Answer within two weeks. (Her new deadline is March 25.)

Judge Jay Adleman issued a Minute Entry today, noting that it would be up to Superior Court Commissioners to proceed with the default process. This is a standard procedure.

Of course, Lake's attorneys - a team of Tim LaSota, Jennifer Wright and ASU's First Amendment Clinic - did file the unsuccessful Motion to Dismiss and other efforts (including stopping discovery). However, upon the upheld denial, an Answer to the defamation Complaint was required.

Richer filed the lawsuit last June, alleging that Lake's false claims alleging "bogus ballot injection", and "ballot size sabotage" have caused significant harm to him and to our elections.

Richer used news of the default to reiterate his readiness to begin discovery, including deposing Lake and others.

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1 comment:

  1. (4)A Default's Effective Date. The filing of the application for default constitutes the entry of default. A default is effective 10 days after the application for entry of default is filed.
    So, is the Default effective 10 calendar days OR 10 business days after the application for entry of default is filed. Is this similar to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that sometimes do not count weekends or non-court days when the response due is 10 days or less?


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