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Hamadeh, legal team owe more than $200,000 in fees, court order says

CD8 candidate continues to fight 2022 AG battle

Posted 5/30/24

PHOENIX — Abe Hamadeh, his lawyers and political supporters are now on the hook for more than $200,000 in legal fees in their latest attempts to have him declared the winner of the 2022 …

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Legal

Hamadeh, legal team owe more than $200,000 in fees, court order says

CD8 candidate continues to fight 2022 AG battle

Posted

PHOENIX — Abe Hamadeh, his lawyers and political supporters are now on the hook for more than $200,000 in legal fees in their latest attempts to have him declared the winner of the 2022 election for attorney general.

In a new order, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan Pineda said the request for legal fees by those defending the outcome of the race is justified. That includes Hamadeh’s contention in one of the lawsuits that Democrat Kris Mayes, who defeated him is holding office illegally.

None of this actually ends Hamadeh’s ongoing legal battle to have the results overturned or, at the very least, order the election rerun in Maricopa County. In a separate case, the unsuccessful GOP contender still is seeking Arizona Supreme Court review of his contention that he was denied a fair trial.

At the same time he is fighting to overturn the 2022 election, Hamadeh is running for the open seat in Arizona's 8th Congressional District in a crowded Republican primary. That district includes portions of Glendale, Peoria and Phoenix as well as Sun City and Sun City West.

The order on legal fees underlines that Pineda, in the cases before her, believes the parallel legal efforts to set aside the outcome of the 2022 race were without legal justification.
The judge took a particular slap at Ryan Heath, who filed both of these challenges, for taking the cases at all.

She said once he agreed to represent Hamadeh and the others who sued on his behalf, he had an obligation to conduct a “reasonable investigation” to determine whether these were viable claims. That, the judge said, included looking at prior lawsuits on the same issues.

“He either did not do so or he chose to ignore the history of litigation that followed the 2022 general election, including the prior unsuccessful cases filed by his client,” Pineda wrote when she first ruled that the people Heath sued were entitled to recover their legal fees.

Heath, for his part, said this isn’t the end of the matter.

“All I have to say is that I’m looking forward to the appeal,” he told Capitol Media Services.

Pineda threw out Heath’s claims in March, saying there was no legal basis for Hamadeh’s contention that Maricopa County improperly included some early ballots in its count of the 2022 election.
Heath based that on his contention that those ballots can be counted only if the signatures on the outside of the envelopes match the voter’s registration form. But Pineda pointed out the state’s Elections Procedures Manual, which has the force of law, actually allows county officials to use other signatures on file, like those on forms when someone votes in person or from prior early ballot envelopes.

What makes all that relevant to the latest order on legal fees is that the judge pointed out he raised the same signature verification issue in two prior cases “and he had lost the exact same issue before another superior court judge in the state.” Here, she said, his decision to “mount a second identical challenge to the Maricopa County process is groundless and unjustified.”

Pineda also noted the procedure being used to verify signatures was public knowledge before the 2022 election. Yet Hamadeh chose not to sue until after the results were in showing he lost to Mayes by 280 votes.

“Challenges concerning alleged procedural violations of the election must be brought prior to the actual election,” the judge noted. “By filing his action after the completion of the election, petitioner asks the court to overturn the will of the people, as expressed in the 2022 election.”

Pineda also found flaws with Hamadeh’s “quo warranto” claim.
In essence, this is a concept in common law where there can be a challenge to whether someone is holding office illegally.
Only thing is, state law allows such challenges only by the attorney general — who, of course, was Mayes — or by the person who claims title to the office.

“However, the person claiming title to the office must show that he is entitled to the office,” Pineda said.

But here, the judge said, Hamadeh asked that the ballots in Maricopa County be recounted and recertified after eliminating what he contends were those that should not have been included in the first place because of that signature issue. Alternately, Pineda said, he asked for a new election.

“He surmises, without proof, that he received the most ‘legal votes’ for the office of attorney general,” the judge said. “That is insufficient to obtain the relief sought.”

The judge also assessed legal fees in a parallel case brought by Heath to throw out the results of the race for attorney general.
This one, however, was filed not on behalf of Hamadeh but for Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby and David Mast, who had previously been involved with efforts by Kari Lake to overturn her loss in the gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs.

Here, too, the claim dealt with the signatures on early ballot envelopes. Heath argued that counting those supposedly illegal votes diluted their own votes.

Pineda, however, said they had no standing to sue as there was no basis for their claim that they had somehow been injured by the process used by Maricopa County.

“They do not show, nor do they allege, that their vote was not counted,” she wrote. In fact, the judge said, the reverse is true: Crosby voted by mail in Cochise County and Mast voted in Maricopa County in person.