Lots of good news out of Arizona Thursday night, further confirming the old adage “timing is everything.” And bad timing usually gets you nothing. Both Kari Lake and Mark Finchem jumped on the so-much-fun Trump train of baselessly claiming “election fraud,” but rather late in the game. And both are now experiencing the consequences of that bad timing.
As reported by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, writing for The Washington Post, the big news was Arizona’s Superior Court ordering the governing board screwballs of Cochise County to certify their election results. This happened to occur in tandem with a brutal federal court ruling Thursday in a separate suit brought by failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her election-denialist sidekick, Mark Finchem. After previously dismissing that lawsuit, the same federal court has now ordered that Lake and Finchem’s lawyers pay the fees expended by Maricopa County to defend against this kind of frivolous garbage.
RELATED STORY: MAGA-controlled Arizona county fails to certify election results by deadline
From The Washington Post article:
The denouement in Cochise County played out as a federal judge, also on Thursday afternoon, sanctioned lawyers for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the unsuccessful GOP candidates for governor and secretary of state, respectively. Taken together, the orders show how judges are scorning efforts to politicize ministerial roles and undermine election administration.
The federal judge, John Tuchi of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, wrote that sanctions would “make clear that the Court will not condone litigants … furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.” ...
Tuchi, who was nominated to the federal bench in 2013 by President Barack Obama, reasoned that payment of attorneys’ fees for Maricopa County was a proper sanction as the county and its lawyers had to “spend time and resources defending this frivolous lawsuit rather than preparing for the elections over which plaintiffs’ claims baselessly kicked up a cloud of dust.”
Attorneys are particularly averse to getting sanctioned themselves—especially by a federal judge and under Rule 11—because it may prevent them from practicing in other jurisdictions where they’re not generally admitted. It’s essentially a black mark on one’s professional record that follows them the rest of their careers. The specific attorneys being sanctioned are not named, but according to the Post article, one of them listed as counsel for Lake and Finchem is Alan Dershowitz. Lake, Finchem, and Dershowitz could not be reached for comment, according to the Post.
Tuchi was quite acerbic in his ruling:
[A]lthough the Court does not find that Plaintiffs have acted appropriately in this matter—far from it— the Court concludes that sanctions are warranted only against Plaintiffs’ counsel, who signed and filed the offending papers. To sanction Plaintiffs’ counsel here is not to let Plaintiffs off the hook. It is to penalize specific attorney conduct with the broader goal of deterring similarly baseless filings initiated by anyone, whether an attorney or not. ...
The Court shares the concerns expressed by other federal courts about misuse of the judicial system to baselessly cast doubt on the electoral process in a manner that is conspicuously consistent with the plaintiffs’ political ends …
Imposing sanctions in this case is not to ignore the importance of putting in place procedures to ensure that our elections are secure and reliable. It is to make clear that the Court will not condone litigants ignoring the steps that Arizona has already taken toward this end and furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process. It is to send a message to those who might file similarly baseless suits in the future.
The courts are clearly getting sick of this nonsense.
Kari Lake’s defeat in Arizona came despite backing from corporate America
Kari Lake refuses to ‘back down’ in Arizona, then promptly heads to Mar-a-Lago to court Trump