Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Sham Candidate's Lawyer Seeks to Stop Friday Hearing (w/Updates)

Just when you thought you could go one day without more shenanigans from the pro-Pearce crowd, here comes Anthony Tsontakis, attorney for sham recall candidate Olivia Cortes, with a desperate appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, seeking to halt a Friday hearing where more evidence is to be introduced in a lawsuit against her.

As I blogged yesterday, Judge Edward Burke has scheduled a new evidentiary hearing for Friday where attorneys Tom Ryan and H. Micheal Wright will question new witnesses and present new evidence to the court linking Cortes' candidacy to the campaign of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

This, after a Monday ruling allowing Cortes to remain on the November 8 ballot for Legislative District 18, while at the same time concluding that Cortes was placed on the ballot by pro-Pearce Tea Party partisans and Pearce family members.

Tsontakis is apparently so worried about what might come of the Friday hearing that he's willing to pull a legal stunt of last resort, instead of allowing the process to continue and more evidence to be examined. 

In his "emergency complaint for special action," Cortes' legal beagle argues that the underlying lawsuit is "more moot than the Arizona sky is blue," and goes on to criticize the lower court for having "abused its discretion" and "acted in excess of its powers" at several points in the legal wrangling. 

(You can read Tsontakis' complaint, here.)

Tsontakis even gets in a pat on the back for himself, stating wryly that, "This argument is not mere creative jurisprudence on the part of counsel."  (Supposedly, fixed-income Cortes is paying for this "creative jurisprudence.") Any new evidence uncovered would be "irrelevant," he states. 

The histrionics reach full force in his conclusion, where he declares that, "This baseless charade needs to stop," and asks the Supremes to stay the Friday hearing and quash the suit altogether, but not without first awarding him "reasonable attorneys' fees," natch.

Wright told me that there is a 2 p.m. telephonic conference today with the duty justice. 

Ryan pointed out that the upcoming Friday hearing is not moot because Judge Burke did not grant Tsontakis' motion to dismiss the underlying lawsuit.

Tsontakis' emergency complaint is "unlikely to succeed," Ryan told me, and he predicted the Friday hearing will go forward as planned, but with one change: Burke is giving Ryan and Wright two additional hours, allowing them to begin the hearing at 1:30 p.m. instead of the previously scheduled 3:30 p.m.

I can't wait for my front row seat at that show. As Ryan said, "This ain't Kabuki theater, this is the real thing." I'll be there with my Twizzlers. Buttered popcorn's too sticky for court.

UPDATE 3:54 PM: Tsontakis was, essentially, shot down by the Supreme Court shortly after the 2 p.m. telephonic hearing. The Friday hearing will take place as scheduled. I'm on the road at the moment and will update with more details shortly.

CORRECTION: Seems I've been misspelling Mr. Wright's first name. It's actually "Micheal" instead of "Michael." All apologies Mr. Wright! I've corrected it in this blog.

UPDATE 11:53 PM: Just a final note about Tsontakis' action today, which also included a couple of additional filings with the Supreme Court.

Without going too deep into the legal mumbo jumbo, one of these was an "application for interlocutory stay," which contained the following admission by Tsontakis:

"Less than twenty-four hours [after the Monday ruling], Judge Burke inexplicably decided to allow Plaintiff an additional day in court, set for this Friday, October 7, 2011, so Plaintiff could produce additional evidence allegedly implicating Petitioner and other parties in some fraudulent scheme to have Petitioner appear on the November 8 Recall Ballot as a `sham candidate.'

"Judge Burke's allowance for this additional hearing directly contravenes his order of the previous day...and could directly result in Petitioner Cortes's name being withdrawn from the Recall Ballot, a harm that is both immediate and irreparable." (Italics added.)

Tsontakis is confessing his worst case scenario: That Wright and Ryan will be successful, and end by finally removing Cortes from the ballot. Indeed, Tsontakis fears this so much that, ironically, it's one reason he wanted the Supremes to step in and block the Friday hearing. 

But they've refused any kind of emergency intervention, and Tsontakis is left with having to go into court and have his client further exposed as a tool of the Tea Party and of the pro-Pearce camp. In other words, it ain't fun to be him right now. Save for the fact that he will presumably, one day, be paid.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons