Will a federal judge's smackdown of Kari Lake and Mark Finchem start a trend?

Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state and Kari Lake, Arizona gubernatorial candidate.
Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state and Kari Lake, Arizona gubernatorial candidate.  

There's no way to prevent election deniers, conspiracy quacks and Trump sycophants like losing Republican candidates Kari Lake and Mark Finchem from spreading BS about the safety and security of Arizona's elections during public appearances or online.

But a court of law is different story.U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi proved that. First when he dismissed a lawsuit brought by Lake and Finchem seeking to have all Arizona counties require paper ballots and conduct a hand count of all the ballots cast, based on unfounded claims of election fraud.

Then again last week when Tuchi ordered sanctions against the attorneys for Lake and Finchem. Judge Tuchi's ruling is a 30-page smackdown of election deniers and political con artists from which there are many highlights.

Lake, Finchem acted 'vexatiously'

He said, for example, that Lake and Finchem "filled the gaps between their factual assertions, claimed injuries, and requested relief with false, misleading, and speculative allegations."

He said, "Any objectively reasonable investigation of this case would have led to publicly available and widely circulated information contradicting Plaintiff's (meaning Lake, Finchem and their lawyers) allegations and undercutting their claims."

He said the lawyers acted "recklessly" and "vexatiously" (which is my new favorite word.)

Lawsuit was a 'misuse of the judicial system'

Unlike the internet, federal courts not only like facts, they require them. They demand evidence.

The judge said he shares the concerns of his colleagues about the "misuse of the judicial system to baselessly cast doubt on the electoral process."

What went wrong:Lake expected to keep fighting in court as advisers debate strategy

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (a Republican who is not a Trump cultist) said online that Lake and Finchem could have known their claims were bunk "with 5 minutes of legitimate research."

But that's just it.

Lake does not want to know.

She is spending a lot of time with Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago these days, where the former president has turned election denying and false conspiracies into a goldmine by getting gullible rubes of all income and education levels to send him money.

The judge is sending a message

Lake seems determined to continue wasting time and money with lawsuits.

Those willing to provide her legal counsel might be wise to consider what Judge Tuchi said in his ruling. Sanctions, like those imposed on attorneys for the Lake/Finchem lawsuit, not only cost the lawyers money. They also could lead to bar complaints. Even disbarment.

In his ruling Tuchi said judges are tired of lawsuits "that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process." That's partly why he imposed sanctions.

And he added, "It is to send a message to those who might file similarly baseless suits in the future."

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kari Lake got a smackdown in court. Will that start a trend?


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