Lake avoids $700,000 in sanctions but still appeals her election loss

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 7:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Just hours after a superior court judge ruled Kari Lake would not have to pay nearly $700,000 in sanctions for bringing a questionable lawsuit, she has filed an appeal in District 1 of the Arizona Court of Appeals and is asking for a review by the Arizona State Supreme Court.

Even though the sanctions were tossed out, Lake was still ordered to pay $33,000 in fees to pay for expert witnesses called by the Secretary of State’s office.

“All of these election denial lawsuits, they are having an impact on confidence the voters have in the electoral process,” said Tom Ryan, an elections law attorney in Phoenix. “That’s significant.”

So significant that the lawyers we talked with were hoping judge Peter Thompson would impose large sanctions on Lake and her attorneys to deter these kinds of lawsuits in the future but that did not happen. “It should serve as a deterrent, not only to people who want to jump in on these cases, but also to candidates who knowingly file and pursue these false and fraudulent cases,” Ryan said.

But in his ruling Judge Thompson said the claims made by Lake and her attorneys were not groundless and brought in bad faith, although in their two day trial they did not meet the burden or the standard of clear and convincing evidence.

That led Paul Weich, another elections attorney to tell us the decision “…encourages fishing expeditions and if you don’t catch anything that’s just the way it goes. That’s not the right standard for Election Contests.” “This is not just a college level fraternity prank, ‘ha ha’ we can all go home now,” Ryan said.

“This has real world consequences. It pains a lot of people. It upsets a lot of people.”

Maricopa County elections officials, which were the subject of Lake’s ire, were awarded nothing of their $25,000 sanctions request. It was the county’s attorneys who said “enough really is enough. It’s time to end these unfounded attacks on our elections.” Again, they were hoping for sanctions to stop the attacks on their office and Arizona’s election integrity.

This decision may not do that, but it may not have been the intended goal for Judge Peterson.

“One of the things I think he’s doing, because he’s looking for finality, part of what he wants to accomplish in order to support Arizona elections law, is to obtain a complete end to the litigation,” Ryan said.

If that was the intended goal, it did not hit the bull’s eye. Lake and her attorneys have decided to take the case to a higher level. She’s asking the order to dismiss the case be overturned.

If there is one consolation in the ruling for the defendants, the judge ruled Governor-elect Katie Hobbs won the race and should be sworn in as Governor.