Kari Lake and Arizona State University law group file to dismiss Stephen Richer's defamation lawsuit

The motion to dismiss was filed Monday along with an Arizona State University law group called the First Amendment Clinic, which specializes in cases regarding free speech.

Published: August 22, 2023 4:12pm

Former Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake filed a motion along with ASU First Amendment Clinic to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

"Stephen Richer is an elected official," Lake wrote in a statement on X, the platform previously called Twitter, Tuesday. "His unlawful attempt to abuse our legal system in order to insulate himself from criticism of his awful job performance established a dangerous precedent in our nation's history. Richer's attack on the First Amendment would have a chilling effect on Americans' ability to speak out and criticize officials, public officials, and politicians. For the good of our Republic, this case should be rejected by our legal system."

In his lawsuit, Richer, whose office is responsible for maintaining state voter files, claims that Lake falsely accused him of sabotaging the 2022 midterm election by injecting 300,000 illegal ballots into the final vote tally in the county, the most populous in the state.

"Not only would I obviously never do the things that she accuses me of, but also as a matter of Arizona law and election administration processes, I don’t even have responsibility for – or jurisdiction over – the printing of ballots on Election Day," Richer said in an interview with the The Arizona Republic.

The motion to dismiss was filed Monday along with an Arizona State University law group called the First Amendment Clinic, which specializes in cases regarding free speech.

One of Lake's primary legal arguments, since losing to current Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, is that thousands of Republican voters were disenfranchised on Election Day, when voting machine errors occurred in at least 60% of the voting centers in Maricopa County. She also pointed out major problems with the signature verification process for mail-in ballots.

Lake has said previously that she will take her case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. 

"In 2022, the legislature strengthened laws protecting the rights of citizens to speak freely on matters of public concern," one of Lake's attorneys Jen Wright said in a statement. "Richer's lawsuit is precisely the kind of abuse of the legal system the law was designed to stop. I have every confidence the court will agree, and dismiss the lawsuit.  

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