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Judge Denies $696K Sanctions Against Kari Lake; Election Claims ‘Not Groundless’

December 28, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

The Maricopa County Superior Court denied most of the $696,000 sanctions requested against Kari Lake. Judge Peter Thompson clarified that Lake’s claims of election misconduct or fraud weren’t groundless or brought in bad faith. 

“There is no doubt that each side believes firmly in its position with great conviction. The fact that Plaintiff failed to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence required for each element of A.R.S. § 16-672 does not equate to a finding that her claims were, or were not, groundless and presented in bad faith,” wrote Thompson. 

However, Thompson didn’t deny all of the sanctions. He did award Katie Hobbs $5,900 in her capacity as secretary of state for an expert witness, $22,400 in her capacity as governor-elect for another expert witness, and another $4,700 in her capacity as governor-elect for 8 hours’ worth of ballot inspections. The total of over $33,000 comes with an annual interest rate of 7.5 percent. 

Lake’s “War Room” team declared Thompson’s dismissal a win. They reaffirmed that they would appeal his ruling on the case.

Lake’s lawyers petitioned late Monday to have Maricopa County and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ collective $696,000 sanctions request dismissed entirely.

In their court filing, Lake’s attorneys said that the county’s sanctions request was a punishment for litigating the election. The attorneys stated that they presented over two hundred witnesses that testified to facts and alleged violations of law, which included specific numbers of allegedly illegal votes exceeding the 17,100 margin between Lake and Hobbs. 

“[T]he issues raised before this Court were of significant concern to millions of Arizona voters as to the causes of chaos that arose on Election Day — and the administration of elections in Maricopa County generally — and Plaintiff’s claims deserved to be brought and heard,” stated Lake’s attorneys. “Trust in the election process is not furthered by punishing those who bring legitimate claims as Plaintiff did here.”

Lake’s attorneys further disputed Maricopa County’s claim that there wasn’t any evidence of intentional misconduct to change the election outcome. They cited the court’s acknowledgement in its ruling that evidence did exist — though Thompson determined that the evidence didn’t appear to affect the election outcome. 

The attorneys also rehashed testimonies from Election Day Director Scott Jarrett and County Recorder Stephen Richer. They claimed that Jarrett walked back his initial denial of knowledge of 19-inch ballots being printed onto 20-inch paper, something that would render them unreadable by tabulators. They also claimed that Richer offered conflicting testimony concerning chain of custody: he at first stated that ballots were processed at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) before being counted at Runbeck, then later stated that ballots were counted at MCTEC and documented on chain of custody forms before being transferred to Runbeck for counting again. 

The bulk of the sanctions fees came from the law firms tied to Democrat’s go-to litigator and principal Russiagate player, Marc Elias, who served Hobbs in her capacity as governor-elect. Hobbs requested over $457,000 for Elias’ law firm, Elias Law Group, and over $93,000 for Elias’ former firm, Perkins Coie. The two firms also requested nearly $56,700 for 16 hours of work. The firms noted that these definite fees for less than a day’s work don’t require a detailed review of invoices nor would they be subject to revision. In his denial of these sanctions, Thompson noted that itemization of costs were required pursuant to state law. 

The firms also requested over $22,400 in definite fees for their expert witness, Kenneth Mayer, and nearly $4,700 for 8 hours of ballot inspections.  

Lake claimed in a since-deleted tweet that Elias helped ghostwrite Judge Thompson’s ruling. 

Maricopa County cited this claim as a justification for their sanctions request. In their counter to the sanctions request, Lake’s attorneys declared that her speech was constitutionally protected. 

In her capacity as secretary of state, Hobbs requested nearly $37,000 for the services of Coppersmith Brockelman, a go-to law firm for Democrats whose partner, Roopali Desai, was appointed earlier this year to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Maricopa County requested an incomplete portion to cover attorney’s fees: just over $25,000. Over $18,700 would go to the county attorney’s office, and just over $6,300 would go to outside counsel with the Burgess Law Group. The remainder of the fees are pending. The county noted that only their clerical workers could export time from their time-keeping systems into a spreadsheet, and that they weren’t willing to require their support staff to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed Lake’s lawsuit on Christmas Eve. Judge Thompson asserted that Lake’s team didn’t provide clear and convincing evidence of election misconduct or fraud. Lake promptly announced that she would appeal the ruling.

In their sanctions request, Maricopa County declared that Lake engaged in “unfounded attacks on elections” and brought forth “unwarranted accusations against elections officials.” 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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