Arizona Edition

Arizona lawmaker seeks to curb judges’ discipline of lawyers

PHOENIX—A state senator who called coverage of the Jan. 6 riots “pretentious” is going after a judge who sanctioned an attorney who claims he is speaking “in good faith” on behalf of his clients. I’m here.

But Glendale Republican Senator Anthony Kahn insists it had nothing to do with his lawyer being ordered to pay $75,000 in legal fees. two lawmakers filed what a judge concluded was a frivolous lawsuit against another lawmaker over Khan’s role in an event at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. I was.

The only example Khan took issue with when the House Judiciary Committee approved his SB1092 on Wednesday was the temporary suspension of the legal license of Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani for making false claims about the 2020 election. It was a 2021 decision by the New York State Bar Association to stop.

Still, Khan claimed that attorneys in this state are under pressure not to take up certain types of cases or make public statements on certain topics. parents. ”

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“I remember the (Arizona) State Bar Association sending an email stating that attorneys should remain silent on the matter and not represent their clients on the matter,” he told a colleague. Told.

“It’s very interesting,” replied D-Phoenix Rep. Analise Ortiz. “I want to see that email.”

However, a spokesman for the State Bar Association called Khan’s allegations “both insulting and plainly untrue.”

“This is not even a subject for discussion at this organization,” spokesman Joe Hengemueller said. “It is irresponsible to make such baseless claims.”

Khan did not respond to a request to compose an email.

Are you hostile to conservative issues?

He and several other conservatives advocate for the judicial system, and the state bar associations, which deal with the discipline of lawyers, are subject to Supreme Court review, but are hostile to their issues.

This has drawn attention as state and federal judges have imposed financial penalties on litigants and their clients for various unsubstantiated lawsuits challenging the election results.

In 2021, a judge will award Arizona Republicans and their attorneys legal fees for filing what he called a baseless lawsuit made in bad faith that could undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election. ordered to pay $18,000 as

Most recently, after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that argued that it was illegal to use machines to count ballots, lawyers hired by Kari Lake and Mark Finchem found legal costs incurred by Maricopa County. said it was responsible for

Whether Lake will be forced to pay the legal costs of those who continue to sue him to overturn his loss in the 2022 gubernatorial election remains pending.

Attorney’s Freedom of Speech

Attorney Rep. Alexander Collodin, R-Scottsdale, said SB1092 exceeded attorney’s fees and that the Arizona bar had filed what the law said was a “legitimate” case. said the lawyer would be disciplined.

“As is well known, our firm has been involved in many politically charged cases,” said Corrodin, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and voted to advance Khan’s bill to the House of Representatives. These lawsuits include an ongoing lawsuit filed by him on behalf of the Arizona Republican Party that argues that a 1991 law allowing anyone to vote early is unconstitutional and has so far It has not been able to obtain support in court.

“We have random people filing bar complaints against us all the time,” Collodin said. At least the conservatives they don’t like have a voice in court,” he said. “So it’s actually gotten really bad.”

Khan said SB1092 protects lawyers’ “freedom of speech.”

“This is a good bill to stop the state bar from imposing discipline on political speech,” he said.

High court can also punish

But the measures aren’t just for bars. He also said he would lose 10% of the budget if the Arizona Supreme Court took disciplinary action against the lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

Ortiz asked Khan whether the $75,000 fine imposed on his attorney in his case against Yuma state representative Charlene Fernandez at the time “stimulated” him to propose this measure. Asked.

“Absolutely not,” he replied. Khan said he’s been battling the state bar for years and sees the state bar’s policy of pursuing lawyers who handle unpopular issues.

“In which case would we determine that a lawyer was targeted for political speech, or what would it be compared to the fact that it was a groundless lawsuit or that the claim should never have been brought?” I think we’re just trying to understand what we’re going to judge in the case: Why did your lawyer have to pay $75,000,” she said.

It all stems from claims by Khan, former state congressman Mark Finkem, and US congressman Paul Gossard that Fernandez was defamed by writing letters to federal law enforcement officers. January 6 riots and breaches of the US Capitol.

Yuma County Superior Court Judge Levi Gunderson, dismissing the case and assessing the charges, said Fernandez had an absolute constitutional right to send the letter. It was brought against political opponents primarily for the purpose of harassment and was brought for inappropriate purposes.”

Khan defends January 6th event

Khan, who was in the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, began defending what happened there.

“January 6, as you know, you’ve probably seen Tucker Carlson and Fox News. It’s all fake,” he said. aired a selection of security tapes from and at one point referred to it as “almost peaceful chaos.”

A 5-3 intraparty vote to advance Khan’s bill despite testimony from Attorney Liana Garcia, who is lobbying for the Arizona Judiciary Council, a division of the Arizona Supreme Court. was done.

She noted that a move to financially penalize the court system for what Khan’s bill deems unacceptable discipline would not affect the judges involved. He said that only those seeking court services were eligible.

There are also more practical questions.

Corodin said the action would essentially require the Supreme Court to determine whether it violated the terms of SB 1092 in disciplining an attorney. He suggested that if the law moved forward, there might be a need for a mechanism for something like a “special master” with final decision-making authority.

Get your morning recap of today’s local news and read the full story here:

Howard Fischer is a veteran journalist who has been reporting since 1970 and has covered state politics and legislatures since 1982.

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