In an order Thursday, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the party’s lawsuit, concluding that evidence supported a lower-court judge finding that the party’s legal claims were groundless and rejecting its allegation that the judge stuck them with the attorneys’ fees for primarily political motives.
The appeals court wrote, “The First Amendment does not shield attorneys or parties from a court’s obligation” under a law requiring judges to impose attorneys’ fees against those who bring claims to court without substantial justification or to delay or harass.
In a statement, the Arizona Republican Party said, “We were surprised by the court’s decision, and will be speaking with legal counsel soon to discuss the best path forward. We are committed to ensuring that elections are fair and accurate.”
Jack Wilenchik, an attorney who at the time represented the party, said the decision will be appealed.
The fees that the party and its attorneys were ordered to pay cover the costs that taxpayers were forced to pick up to defend government officials in the case. In the lawsuit, the party tried unsuccessfully to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County and seek a new audit of a sampling of ballots.