Arizona: “Court upholds legal fees penalty for former SOS candidate”

Arizona Capitol Times:

Mark Finchem and his attorney can’t escape a court order that they pay more than $47,000 in legal fees in his unsuccessful attempt to overturn his 2022 loss in the race for secretary of state.

In a ruling Thursday, the state Court of Appeals said a trial judge got it right when she ruled that it was clear that the lawsuit he filed was “groundless.” Beyond that, appellate Judge Samuel Thumma, writing for the unanimous panel, said the lawsuit was not filed in good faith….

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Julian said Finchem “offered no tether between the machine malfunctions and the outcome of the election he challenged here.”

Thumma said there were other problems with his case.

One is that Finchem alleged there were 80,000 votes illegally cast, 60,000 from Maricopa County and 20,000 from Pima County.

“That number is still 40,000 votes less than what Finchem would have needed to challenge the results of an election he lost by more than 120,000 votes,” wrote Thumma in concluding that the lawsuit was groundless.

The appellate judge noted that Finchem subsequently called into question more than 261,000 votes. By that point, Thumma said, it was too late.

More to the point, he said, it’s legally irrelevant to whether there were grounds for him to sue in the first place.

“Claimed post-filing evidence … is not dispositive,” the judge wrote. “The question is whether Finchem brought his claim without substantial justification.”

The problems with the lawsuit, said Thumma, go beyond the finding that there were no grounds for filing it. He said it also ran afoul of provisions that bar cases from filing unless there is a “good faith” belief” there is a legal basis.

That, the judge said, did not occur here — and not only because the number of disputed votes, even if they had gone Finchem’s way, were not enough to alter the outcome.

You can find the opinion at this link. It’s notable that this opinion is not selected for publication and therefore is not precedential. It should be citable.

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