Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson has officially ruled against the defendant’s motions for sanctions against Kari Lake in her election challenge, stating that her claims were not made in bad faith.
“Plaintiff failed to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence required for each clement of AR.S. § 16-672 does not equate 10 a finding that her claims were, or were not, ‘groundless and presented in bad faith,” wrote Thompson.
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, the defendants in this trial, Maricopa County, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office (SOSO), and Democrat Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs all filed motions for sanctions against Lake and her attorneys Monday morning and requested the payment of attorney’s fees. The county argued that Lake’s claims about the 2022 General Election were not presented in good faith but rather for political reasons and to spread disinformation about Arizona’s election.
Lake’s attorney, Bryan Blehm, responded the same day by assuring the judge that all claims made in the trial were in good faith and were of public interest.
In his ruling, Thompson acknowledged that the defendants had the statutory right to pursue the sanctions, but their claims of bad faith against the plaintiffs were not substantial enough. While eight of Lake’s initial claims were rejected by the court, two survived and went to trial. Thompson acknowledged that the witnesses and evidence provided by Lake and her attorneys were not enough to meet the “clear and convincing” burden of proof necessary to overturn the election; however, that does not mean that the evidence was brought in bad faith.
“The Court does not doubt Plaintiff’s belief in her perception of the evidence,” Thompson wrote. “The Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims presented in this litigation were not brought in bad faith under Arizona Revised Statutes [ARS] § 12-349(A)(1). Therefore, it is ordered denying Defendants’ Motions For Attorney Fees And Sanctions.”
However, while attorney’s fees are off the table, Lake and her team will still be held partially financially responsible for this trial. Under ARS § 12-332, the prevailing party in Superior Court is entitled to an award of taxable costs, including the fees of witnesses. Therefore, Thompson ordered plaintiffs to pay Maricopa County, the SOSO, and Hobbs a combined $33,040 in costs. This total is a far cry from the nearly $700,000 Lake’s team would have been forced to pay should the sanctions have gone through.
Thompson ends his ruling by stating all matters relating to this litigation have been resolved by the Superior Court. He once again affirmed Hobbs as the Governor-Elect.
However, this is likely not the end of this trial, as Lake had already stated she would seek an appeal. While speaking at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest, Lake said she was ready and willing to take this case to the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary.
Local attorney, Tom Ryan, stated that the defendants could try and appeal this ruling, but because this was a factual finding rather than a legal finding, they would need to find that Thompson was incorrect in his ruling.
Barring any changes, new statewide office holders, including the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, will take office in less than a week, on January 2nd.
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