Arizona Supreme Court Orders Hearing on Kari Lake’s Signature Verification Case

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
May 5, 2023Politics
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Arizona Supreme Court Orders Hearing on Kari Lake’s Signature Verification Case
Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake speaks to supporters during her election night event at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a hearing in connection to GOP candidate Kari Lake’s signature verification issue, while fining her lawyers $2,000 for their claims that were made about ballots.

“It is further ordered that the trial court shall forthwith conduct such proceedings as appropriate to resolve the unrelated question previously remanded,” wrote Justice Robert Brutinel in the order (pdf).

Previously, the court remanded one of several of her election-related claims to trial court and allowed sanctions to be considered against her. Specifically, Lake’s claim that Maricopa County violated its signature verification rules during last year’s election was allowed to proceed to trial court after it was improperly dismissed by a lower court, it was ordered.

The court fined Lake’s lawyers $2,000 for what they said were “unequivocally false” claims that more than 35,000 ballots were “injected” into Maricopa County’s total after the midterm election finished. Lake’s lawyers in March said that those ballots were added to the total at a third-party processing facility, while noting that Lake lost to now-Gov. Katie Hobbs by 17,000 votes.

“Not only is that allegation strongly disputed by the other parties, this Court concluded and expressly stated that the assertion was unsupported by the record, and nothing in Lake’s Motion for Leave to file a motion for reconsideration provides reason to revisit that issue,” the order said.

“Although Lake may have permissibly argued that an inference could be made that some ballots were added, there is no evidence that 35,563 ballots were and, more to the point here, this was certainly disputed by the Respondents,” it added. “The representation that this was an ‘undisputed fact’ is therefore unequivocally false.”

Lake’s attorneys said the chain of custody for ballots was broken at an off-site facility where a contractor scans mail-in ballots to prepare them for processing. The lawyers asserted that workers put their own mail-in ballots into the pile rather than returning them through normal channels, and that paperwork documenting ballot transfers was missing. Maricopa County disputes the claims.

Meanwhile, the court denied requests by Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, both Democrats, to seek more legal sanctions over Lake’s allegations.

NTD Photo
Bill Gates, chair of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, speaks about voting machine malfunctions at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Elections Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 9, 2022. (Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images)

“Sometimes campaigns and their attendant hyperbole spill over into legal challenges. But once a contest enters the judicial arena, rules of attorney ethics apply,” Brutinel wrote in his ruling. He denied a request for Lake to pay the legal fees for Fontes and Hobbs.

An attorney for Lake, Kurt Olsen, disputed the $2,000 fine in a statement to multiple news outlets. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s holding but look forward to presenting our case at trial,” Olsen told Axios, referring to the upcoming trial.

When the order was handed down, legacy news outlets like NBC News and The Associated Press focused primarily on the court having sanctioned Lake’s attorneys for $2,000 and made little mention of the trial court order on Lake’s signature verification claims. Little mention was made of the court’s order to deny requests to pay attorney fees for Hobbs and Fontes.

In response, Lake, who appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Hungary this week, wrote on Twitter: “The media has their narrative. We have the truth. We look forward to showing the public that the signature verification process in Maricopa County is an absolute sham. We’re moving forward.”

In mid-February, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected Lake’s assertions, concluding she presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were not able to vote.

In her initial challenge, Lake focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County. The defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places, officials have claimed.

Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion on Election Day, while Lake later alleged ballot printer problems were the result of intentional misconduct. County officials say everyone had a chance to vote, and all ballots were counted because those affected by the printers were taken to more sophisticated counters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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