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Verdicts & Settlements

Judge Thrashes Arizona Election Lawsuit, Orders Sanctions Against Attorneys

— December 1, 2022

In his 30-page page opinion, federal judge John Tuchi found that the lawsuit–filed by attorneys for two failed Republican political candidates–contained numerous inaccuracies and falsehoods.

An attorney for failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has issued a 30-page opinion roundly condemning Lake’s legal team, ordering sanctions against her attorneys to deter “similarly baseless suits in the future.”

As has reported before, Lake had filed a broad lawsuit seeking to prevent Maricopa and Pima counties from “using any electronic device” in the November 2022 general election.

Lake, along with Republican Mark Finchem—a member of the Arizona House of Representatives who unsuccessfully ran for Secretary of State—had instead demanded that the state’s most populous counties require paper ballots.

They had also asked that the court order that all paper ballots be counted by hand.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi dismissed the lawsuit, finding it riddled with “conjectural allegations of potential injuries.”

Before the complaint was dismissed, the five members of the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors—all named as defendants—had asked that Tuchi order sanctions against Lake’s legal team for their “numerous false allegations about the Arizona elections.”

A 2016 image of a ballot drop box in Boulder County, Colorado. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:pasa47 . (CCA-BY-2.0).

In his ordering granting the sanctions, Tuchi decried the original lawsuit as a “frivolous complaint.”

The plaintiffs, Tuchi observed, had sought “massive, perhaps unprecedented federal judicial intervention” against Arizona’s existing electoral system, despite the fact that neither Lake nor Finchem’s claims “had a factual basis or legal theory that came anywhere close to meeting that burden.”

Tuchi stated that he would not “condone litigants […] furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.”

The judge also noted that the lawsuit seemed hampered by objectively false claims.

For example, the failed conservative candidates’ lawsuit explicitly state that Arizona does not have a paper voting system; and because it does not have paper ballots, vote counts cannot be verified.

However, Tuchi found that Arizona’s current system—which uses voting tabulation machines—is still a paper-based voting system.

“A system that uses paper ballots for recording votes and electronic machines for tabulating them remains a ‘paper-based voting system,'” Tuchi wrote.

Tuchi also criticized other claims that the Dominion Voting Systems equipment used by Maricopa County is “deficient” and untested, noting that all of Arizona’s election equipment is tested by “independent, neutral experts […] and a testing laboratory accredited by the Election Assistance Commission.”

“Plaintiffs and their experts may be entitled to opine about the sufficiency of the testing that Arizona’s machines undergo, but they are not entitled to allege that no such testing takes place,” Tuchi wrote.

Bill Gates, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ chair, said in a statement that the sanctions against Lake and Finchem’s legal teams are a “win for the rule of law.”

Gates said that there are “too many examples in recent years of attorneys trying to weaponize the court for political purposes.”

“It is wrong, it is unethical, and these attorneys must be held accountable if we are to protect our democratic republic,” Gates added.


‘Furthering false narratives’: Lake, Finchem lawsuit draws sanction order from judge

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