Photo by Jim Small | Arizona Mirror
The Arizona Supreme Court should reject Abraham Hamadeh’s insincere attempt to fast-track his appeal that aims to overturn his 2022 election loss, say lawyers for Attorney General Kris Mayes.
A little over a week ago, Hamadeh’s legal team filed a special action with the high court aimed at skipping over the Court of Appeals in his ongoing bid to overturn Mayes’ win. The defeated Republican nominee for attorney general, who lost by just 280 votes, is seeking a new trial after one in December failed to convince a judge that widespread issues with election processes cost him a victory.
And while that push for a new trial was dismissed by a trial court judge last month, his attorneys argued in the special action that errors and delays on the part of the judge warrants reviving the case.
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Alexis Danneman, an attorney for Mayes, a Democrat, said that Hamadeh himself is to blame for the delays in the case. In the special action, Hamadeh’s lawyers criticized Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen for issuing late and unsigned rulings. Without a signature, an order isn’t final and can’t be appealed. But, Danneman said, the option to officially request a binding resolution was always an option — Hamadeh’s attorneys just didn’t take it.
“Petitioners’ representation that they have ‘repeatedly’ attempted to get the superior court to enter judgment is false,” Danneman wrote. “Petitioners have never asked the superior court to enter a final judgment with the requisite finality language at any stage of this case. Not once.”
The rest of the complaints brought up in the special action, which revolve around how Jantzen conducted the December trial, should be handled by the state appeals court, Mayes contends. Although, Danneman noted, any disagreements with Jantzen’s pretrial decision-making should really have been brought up at the time.
“In any event, there is not a sufficient basis for this Court to hear — in the first instance — (Hamadeh’s) numerous substantive arguments,” she wrote. “Each of the issues raised in the Petition could have been raised in the court of appeals.”
In fact, days before Hamadeh’s campaign filed the special action, it also submitted a notice of appeal, despite not yet having received an appealable order from Jantzen. Doing so effectively froze Jantzen’s ability to issue a signed order, and Hamadeh’s attorneys have since asked for that appeal to be dismissed as premature. The special action to the Supreme Court also requests that the court order Jantzen to deliver a final judgment.
Danneman criticized Hamadeh’s campaign for causing a confusing tangle of judicial requests, noting that there are still pending sanctions and ballot inspector compensation issues left to resolve in Jantzen’s court. On those grounds alone, the state’s high court should deny the special action request, she argued.
“Petitioners have unnecessarily complicated this case by seeking relief in the superior court, the court of appeals, and this Court, all simultaneously,” she wrote. “This self-created procedural morass only further saps precious judicial and party resources — and warrants declining.”
Failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake also sought an appeal from both the state appeals and state supreme courts simultaneously twice this year. Her first attempt was rejected, after the Arizona Supreme Court judges sent the issue back to the lower court and her second attempt hasn’t yet been responded to.
Danneman urged the Supreme Court to reject Hamadeh’s bid to speed up the judicial process, saying that his continued efforts to keep his case alive undermines Mayes’ win and the will of everyone who put her in office.
“The prejudice to the Defendants and the 2.5 million Arizonans who voted in the 2022 General Election for Arizona Attorney General would be extreme, and entirely unprecedented, if Petitioners were allowed to have their claims heard at this late date,” she wrote.
An additional request from Hamadeh’s campaign for attorneys’ fees should also be rejected, and instead Mayes’ legal costs should be compensated and Hamadeh should be assessed sanctions, Daneman argued.
“There is no excuse for delaying nearly eight months to file a special action on pretrial decisions. And there was no excuse to wait until after Ms. Mayes took office to file a motion for a new trial,” Danneman wrote. “Petitioners have (not for the first time) forced Defendants to divert time and resources away from carrying out the functions of state government and to responding to frivolous, lengthy filings instead.”
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