While denying any wrongdoing, Ford Motor Company recently offered up more than $19 million to settle allegations brought by several states including Arizona that the company made false advertising claims about its C-MAX vehicles, model years 2011 to 2015.
But Ford Motor consumers who may have been misled by the advertising will not share in the payout. Instead, the money will be split among the attorney generals of 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Court documents filed in Maricopa County Superior Court show the portion allocated to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is $884,364.40, of which $200,000 will be used for attorneys’ fees and costs. The other $684,364.40 will be deposited into Arizona’s Consumer Protection – Consumer Fraud Revolving Fund for use at the discretion of Attorney General Mark Brnovich as provided by law.
The Consent Judgment notes Ford specifically denies it has violated any federal or state laws. And nothing in the agreement precludes consumers from pursing claims against Ford on an individual or class action basis. However, such legal efforts would not be taken up by the State, according to the May 18 agreement approved by Brnovich.
“Only the Attorney General may seek enforcement of this Consent Judgment,” the document states. “Nothing herein is intended to create a private right of action by other parties; however, this Consent Judgment does not limit the rights of any private party to pursue any remedies allowed by law.”
In addition to the monetary payout, Ford agreed to be “enjoined, restrained, and prohibited” from making false or misleading advertising claims concerning the estimated Fuel Economy and Payload Capacity of any new motor vehicles.
The attorney generals of six states—Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont—were part of the executive committee which led the investigative action against Ford Motor Company’s C-MAX advertising.
The other attorney generals who will benefit are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Congressmen Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) will not be disqualified from the upcoming midterm elections for organizing the January 6 protest, a judge ruled on Friday.
The question before the court was whether the three candidates violated Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the “Disqualification Clause.” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs had no right of action to determine such a violation under the Constitution or supporting law.
Coury explained that the lawsuit’s argument for exercising the 14th Amendment contradicted legal precedent: the 1869 ruling for In Re Griffin, for example. Coury wrote that precedent, coupled with context of the amendment within the article, empowered Congress to exercise the 14th Amendment — not individual states or the people.
“[T]he Constitution provides legislation enacted by Congress is required to enforce the disqualification pursuant to the Disqualification Clause. Aside from criminal statutes dealing with insurrection and rebellion which Congress has enacted (lawsuits which require the government, not private citizens, to initiate), Congress has not passed legislation that is presently in effect which enforces the Disqualification Clause against the Candidates,” wrote Coury. “The text of the Constitution is mandatory. It sets forth the single arbiter of the qualifications of members of Congress; that single arbiter is Congress. It would contradict the plain language of the United States Constitution for this Court to conduct any trial over the qualifications of a member of Congress.”
The judge also rejected the argument that Arizona law enabled a private right of action to enforce the Disqualification Clause where the Constitution and federal law didn’t. Coury distinguished the term “prescribed” from “proscribed,” ruling that the Arizona law in question encompassed requirements for holding office, not disqualifications. Coury added that his interpretation was consistent with state and federal precedent.
Coury also noted that none of the three men were charged with or convicted of insurrection or rebellion. He refused to rule on the merits of the allegations of insurrection made against Gosar, Biggs, and Finchem.
The lawsuit was filed by Free Speech For People, a Democrat-backed, progressive nonprofit. The organization was ruled against last month as well in a similar lawsuit against Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11). Another one of their similar lawsuits against Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14) had a hearing on Friday.
The State of Arizona has great reason to celebrate. In a case that the Club joined as a plaintiff, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah ruled against Prop 208, determining that the money raised from the tax would exceed the constitutional spending limit for education. This decision followed the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling last August that Prop 208 was unconstitutional. And now, it officially puts the nail in the coffin of the largest tax hike in Arizona history.
On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey announced the appointments of James Drake, Ashley Villaverde Halvorson and Keith Miller to the Maricopa County Superior Court. These appointments are to fill vacancies created by the retirement of Judges Roger E. Brodman, Connie Coin Contes and Karen A. Mullins.
James “Jim” Drake has been serving as the nonpartisan, elected Chief Clerk and Counsel for the Arizona House of Representatives since 2015. In addition to overseeing 14 staff members, he works on questions of law regarding public records, parliamentary advice, constitutional issues, financial disclosure, and election law matters. Jim also works as of-counsel for Shannon and Fleming, P.C. in civil matters, particularly evidentiary hearings with self-represented litigants.
Prior to being elected Chief Clerk, Jim was the Assistant Secretary of State in the Secretary of State’s Office from 2009 to 2015. He oversaw approximately 140 employees under the State Law Library, State Elections, Business Services, and Archives and Public Records Divisions.
From 1996 to 2009, Jim held several positions in the Arizona House of Representatives, including Rules Attorney, Counsel to the Ethics Committee, Judiciary Committee Analyst, and Banking Committee Analyst/Staff Attorney. During his tenure as the nonpartisan Rules Attorney, Jim’s work was devoted almost exclusively to constitutional analysis under the Arizona and United States Constitutions. In addition, he has recommended and crafted amendments to cure constitutional infirmities on bills, consistently rendering nonpartisan opinions.
Jim also volunteers in the community, including as an active supporter of the Foundation for Blind Children. He has regularly participated with and guided blind and visually impaired children in a sailing expedition, Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon hike, and swimming challenge from Alcatraz.
“Jim’s devotion to serving the public will serve the bench well. I am delighted to appoint him to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Jim received his law degree from the California Western School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Arizona.
Ashley Villaverde Halvorson has spent her career at Jones Skelton & Hochuli, where she currently is a Partner. She primarily defends insurance companies in complex breach of contract and bad faith litigation. She also defends persons and businesses in personal injury/wrongful death litigation, including auto, premises, and dram shop liability. Additionally, Ashley was appointed as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge pro tem in 2018.
Ashley has been named a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to the present. In 2017, she was named one of the Top Lawyers Under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Ashley has been a leader in improving diversity in the legal profession. She has been significantly involved with the Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association, including serving as its President. Ashley has been a part of the Latina Mentoring Project since she was in law school and was its very first judicial pipeline candidate. She has also been an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law. In 2020, she received the State Bar of Arizona’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award, which annually recognizes an attorney, judge, employer, organization or bar association that significantly advances diversity and inclusion in the Arizona legal community through creative, strategic, or innovative efforts.
“Ashley’s civil litigation experience and involvement in the community will allow her to be a strong contributor, and I am pleased to appoint her to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Ashley received her bachelor’s degree cum laude in Political Science and her law degree from Arizona State University.
Keith Miller has been serving as an Associate Attorney at Fennemore since January 2020, where he primarily practices in business litigation representing a variety of clients in matters pending in state and federal courts, as well as in mediation. Additionally, he has represented clients in matters pending before state and local administrative agencies.
From 2015 to 2019, Keith was an Assistant Attorney General at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. He initially was part of the Federalism Unit in the Solicitor General’s Office, where he was involved with several pieces of high profile litigation involving constitutional issues. In addition, he served on the Opinions Review Committee and Ethics Review Committee. He then worked in the Environmental Enforcement Section as counsel to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Keith also worked as an Assistant Legal Counsel and Assistant Director of Career Services for Hillsdale College in Michigan from 2011 to 2015. During this time, he also coached the college’s mock trial team for 2 seasons, finishing a season with the college’s highest ranking ever.
Prior to that, Keith was a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg in Phoenix from 2009 to 2011. Upon graduating from law school, Keith was an Associate Attorney at O’Melveny in Newport Beach, California from 2008 to 2009.
“Keith has a broad amount of legal experience from the private to public sectors, and I am thrilled to appoint him to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” said Governor Ducey.
Keith received his law degree from Columbia Law School and his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Mathematics and History from Hillsdale College.
On Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled that many laws passed within the recent budget were unconstitutional. Cooper stated that the legislation violated the single subject rule of the Arizona Constitution. The case, Arizona School Boards Association Inc., et al., v. State of Arizona, et al. (CV2021-012741) had a total of 15 plaintiffs. In all, Cooper’s ruling impacted a variety of budget-related bills, or BRBs: HB2898, SB1824, SB1825, and struck down SB1819 in its entirety.
“Subject and title of bills[:] Section 13. Every act shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith, which subject shall be expressed in the title; but if any subject shall be embraced in an act which shall not be expressed in the title, such an act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be embraced in the title.” (emphasis added)
In a copy of the opinion obtained by 12 News, Cooper asserted that Section 13 was made with the intent to prevent “logrolling”: inserting a multiplicity of subjects into one bill in order to push a vote through. The judge supported her claim with Arizona Supreme Court precedent. In explaining her decision to strike down all of SB1819, a sweeping bill that expanded voter registration, modified ballot security requirements, removed the secretary of state’s legal authority over election laws, established an election integrity fund, limited the length of public health emergencies, and created a special committee to audit the voter rolls, among other things.
“No matter how liberally one construes the concept of ‘subject’ for the single subject rule, the array of provisions are in no way related to nor connected with each other or to an identifiable ‘budget procedure.’ The bill is classic logrolling – a medley of special interests cobbled together to force a vote for all or none,” wrote Cooper. “In this case, the State’s view would allow the Legislature to re-define ‘budget reconciliation’ to mean anything it chooses. Going forward, the Legislature could add any policy or regulatory provision to a BRB, regardless of whether the measure was necessary to implement the budget, without notice to the public. The State’s idea of ‘subject’ is not and cannot be the law.” (emphasis added)
Cooper also asserted that the bills in question weren’t in compliance with the state constitution’s requirement that bill titles clearly reflect the content of the legislation.
In striking down the entirety of SB1819, Cooper explained that prior court decisions don’t allow for severability to salvage portions of the bill.
“When an act violates the single subject rule, the whole act fails,” stated Cooper.
Whereas for the other bills, Cooper explained that the certain provisions banning mask, vaccine, and testing mandates; critical race theory education; and vaccine passports weren’t reflected in the bill titles. Therefore, they were invalid.
As AZ Free News reported last week, the main plaintiff in the case, Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), recently hosted a law conference where photos showed attendees maskless and not social distancing, though spokespersons informed us that masks were required. ASBA also told us they encouraged some attendees to take off masks momentarily and group together for pictures.
The mask mandate ban would’ve gone into effect on Wednesday.
Governor Doug Ducey’s spokesperson characterized the ruling as “judicial overreach.” The governor’s office promised that they would challenge the ruling.
“We are still reviewing the ruling, but this decision is clearly an example of judicial overreach. Arizona’s state government operates with three branches, and it’s the duty and authority of only the legislative branch to organize itself and to make laws,” stated Ducey’s spokesman. “Unfortunately, today’s decision is the result of a rogue judge interfering with the authority and processes of another branch of government. Further action will be taken to challenge this ruling and ensure separation of powers is maintained.”