Hamadeh Case Still Without Ruling; Judge Has History Of Tardiness

June 29, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Republican attorney general challenger Abe Hamadeh has yet to receive a ruling, a month after Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen promised one. The delay aligns with the judge’s history of tardiness on issuing rulings.

Hamadeh argued for a new trial in mid-May. At the time, Jantzen said he had a specific date in mind to issue a ruling, which he didn’t disclose, but promised to issue a ruling in several weeks’ time. That would’ve meant a ruling at some point near the end of May, possibly early June. It’s nearly July now.

Jantzen has been disciplined twice for failing to issue rulings on time. 

In 2018, Jantzen was censured for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, after failing to rule on an individual’s petition for post-conviction relief for over two years. Over those two years, Jantzen falsely certified on multiple payroll statements that he had no matters under submission that were pending and undetermined for over 60 days. 

At some point prior to that punishment, Jantzen received a warning from the Commission on Judicial Conduct for similar misconduct involving a delayed ruling.

In 2021, Jantzen was again publicly reprimanded for failing to issue a ruling within 30 days as promised. He ended up issuing the ruling after 79 days. During that time, Jantzen again signed a payroll certification falsely claiming that he had no tardy matters under submission pending and undetermined.

Hamadeh trails Attorney General Kris Mayes by 280 votes: a fraction of the original 511 vote lead Mayes had prior to the recount. During oral arguments for a new trial in May, Hamadeh argued for the favorable existence of hundreds of “lost” uncounted votes — or, undervotes — and provisional ballots.

There were over 9,000 provisional votes that weren’t included in the final count. About 70 percent of Election Day voters were in favor of Hamadeh. Based on that scale, Hamadeh could have more than enough votes to surpass Mayes. 

Provisional vote totals took as long as they did to discover due to a delay in response from the counties, according to Hamadeh. The disjunctive information flow between the government and the public is one of the warranting factors for a new trial, per Hamadeh.

“We have to get information from 15 different government agencies, and it’s complicated,” said Hamadeh. “I wish we had access to the information that the government has. That’s why we’re asking for a new trial.”

During the oral arguments, Mayes’ team focused on the amount of time that has passed since last fall’s election and her swearing in. Hamadeh has dismissed that claim. He argues that the Arizona Constitution’s absolute statement that the candidate with the most votes wins the election trumps any statutory timelines set by legislatures.

Of note, Mayes’ counsel never staked the claim that Mayes obtained the most votes. Conversely, Hamadeh’s team took every opportunity to present samples of evidence of uncounted, existing votes. The merits of these claims went uncontested by Mayes’ team. 

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

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