Lake, Finchem attorneys ordered to pay Maricopa County’s legal fees for failed lawsuit
Dec 1, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2022, 11:35 am
PHOENIX — The attorneys for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem were ordered Thursday to pay Maricopa County’s legal fees for a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Arizona Republican candidates that a judge said “lacked an adequate factual or legal basis.”
Judge John Tuchi said the lawyers for Lake and Finchem are to pay fees in the April suit, which asked a federal court to bar the use of tabulation equipment in the recent midterm elections.
Tuchi also admonished Lake and Finchem but decided that their actions didn’t rise to the level of warranting sanctions.
“Although 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,” the ruling said.
Tuchi gave Maricopa County 14 days to determine what their legal fees in the case were. The lawyers for Finchem and Lake will then have 14 days to respond to the county’s requested award.
“Today’s sanctions against the lawyers who brought the frivolous Lake vs. Hobbs case are a win for the rule of law. Although rarely imposed, Rule 11 sanctions serve as a consequence for those who file baseless and meritless lawsuits,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday in a statement.
Tuchi dismissed the lawsuit in August, saying it failed to show any realistic likelihood of harm.
“Plaintiffs filled the gaps between their factual assertions, claimed injuries, and requested relief with false, misleading, and speculative allegations,” the ruling said.
The lawsuit repeated allegations about the security of machines that count votes.
Attorneys relied in part on testimony from Donald Trump supporters who led a discredited review of the election in Maricopa County, including Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, who oversaw the effort described by supporters as a “forensic audit.”
Maricopa County filed a motion in July in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, asserting the lawsuit’s claims were “demonstrably false” and asked to sanction the candidates over it.
“Plaintiffs’ and their counsels’ use of the Court to further a disinformation campaign and false narrative concerning the integrity of the election process in Arizona by asserting demonstrably false allegations is repugnant,” the motion said.
Lake lost the gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs and Finchem lost to Adrian Fontes for secretary of state.
Neither candidate has conceded and both have threatened legal action disputing their losses.
Correction: The story initially said Lake and Finchem were required to pay attorneys fees in the lawsuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.