Kari Lake Attorney Response to Motions for Sanctions; Says They will Further Erode Trust in Elections

Following the dismissal of Kari Lake’s election challenge, Maricopa County, the Secretary of State’s Office (SOSO), and Democrat Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs all filed Motions for Sanctions and Applications for Attorney’s Fees Monday morning. Lake’s team responded, stating that sanctioning them in this trial would further erode trust in election systems.

“Trust in the election process is not furthered by punishing those who bring legitimate claims as Plaintiff did here. In fact, sanctioning Plaintiff would have the opposite effect,” according to a response from one of Lake’s attorneys, Bryan Blehm.

During closing arguments in the election challenge trial, Tom Liddy, representing Maricopa County, clearly stated that the defendants would be seeking sanctions. In his ruling on the case, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson gave defendants until 8 am Monday to file and plaintiffs until 5 pm the same day to respond. Both parties adhered to the deadlines.

In the motion filed by Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell (R), the defendants stated that Lake’s lawsuit was “frivolous” and just another step in her “attack” on Arizona’s elections. If the county’s motion goes through, this would not be the first sanctions placed on Lake’s attorneys in the past month. In December, U.S. District Judge John Tuchi sanctioned Lake and State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) in a lawsuit seeking to bar the use of electronic voting machines in the 2022 election. The defendants brought the previous sanctions up, stating plaintiffs, like in that case, only brought this challenge for “purely political – not legal – purposes.”

In this trial, Lake had two claims and had to prove that Maricopa County intentionally caused printer issues on election day that altered the final vote count in Hobbs’s favor and that the county purposefully violated the chain of custody laws which also changed the count. The defendants cite Arizona law to say that sanctions to award attorney’s fees are justified because Lake and the plaintiffs “should have known” they did not have the evidence needed in this trial but went forward anyway.

The defendants also argued that the Plaintiff’s claims were made “in bad faith” as an attempt to spread disinformation about election results, which would also be grounds for sanctions.

Ultimately, the county, SOSO, and Governor-Elect Hobbs each requested attorney’s fees, totaling nearly $700,000.

“Enough really is enough. It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials,” according to the county’s motion. “The Maricopa County Defendants therefore ask this Court to impose sanctions against Plaintiff Kari Lake and her attorneys, Bryan Blehm and Kurt Olsen,”

In response to the motions, Blehm stated that the defendants did not meet the “high bar” of establishing entitlement to sanctions. Under the law, a party’s claims must constitute harassment, be groundless, and not be made in good faith to warrant sanctions.

The plaintiffs pointed to Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer, who testified in the trial, as a reason their claims were justified. The plaintiffs state Richer gave differing statements on the chain of custody for drop-off ballots on election day, at one point saying ballots were counted at a third-party company called Runbeck but then stated ballots were counted by the county before going to Runbeck. Blehm stated that this inconsistency proves that their claims were made with justifiable concern, so sanctions are not applicable in this situation.

“Plaintiff’s put forth evidence in good faith that showed substantial support for her claims—claims which also remain of great public concern. Defendants’ motion for sanctions is not supported by case law or the record,” Blehm concluded.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Photo “Kari Lake” by The Kari Lake. Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.


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