Kari Lake Unveils Legal Drama: Prima Facie Proof Points to 1st Amend. Battle in Defamation Lawsuit-Stay Granted

It is almost as if the opponents of President Trump, America First, and Conservative Populists have totally forgotten about our First Amendment rights to criticize political people doing political things. At the very least we can see some people have no respect for the rights of others when they are brave enough to speak truth to power.

The dangers are right in our face. They are prima facie, which means ‘at first sight’. Here is what that looks like:

In the unfolding legal saga between Maricopa County Democrat Recorder Stephen Richer and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Republican Kari Lake, things are heating up for Lake and her team with a recent victory, as the Arizona Supreme Court quickly grants Lake’s team a stay. Papers were filed on Tuesday and the stay was issued by Wednesday.

Recent Court documents shed light on what Lake alleges are hugely important First Amendment interferences in Richer’s defamation lawsuit against Lake, which clearly shows violations of Lake’s free speech and her right to criticize Richer for doing an abysmal job during the 2022 mid-term election.

A pivotal part of the petition for the stay, by Lake’s team stated:

“The Superior Court’s decision below was “arbitrary and capricious,” and an “abuse of discretion” (Ariz. R. P. Spec. Act 3(c)) as it not only allow Richer’s claim targeting Lake’s constitutionally protected core political speech to proceed but also held that the prima facie proof contained directly in the Complaint itself was inadequate under the Anti-SLAPP Statute.

Richer’s own Complaint contained an admission that he was filing suit to target Lake’s speech. Under the Anti-SLAPP Statute, where there is prima facia proof that the lawsuit targets a constitutional right, such as free speech, the burden shifts to the Plaintiff to prove the cause of action was justified. A.R.S. § 12-751(B)(1),(2). The trial court excused Richer from any such showing, and the record suggests he cannot, even if given the opportunity.

Significantly, ongoing political speech criticizing a matter of significant public concern (the administration of elections), will be silenced and impeded, essentially muzzling all of Richer’s critics as we enter an election year where Richer’s performance of his elected duties is on the ballot.

Although only Defendants are on trial herein, the ability for constituents, and even his political opponents, to criticize Richer’s duties administering elections will be substantially chilled as constituents (and candidates running against him) wonder if they too will be the target of a defamation claim – leading to self-censorship.”

Lake asserts that the Superior Court committed errors in adhering to the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Statute’s procedural requirements. The case is now being reviewed.

The Anti-SLAPP Statute, designed to safeguard libel defendants, mandates an expedited process, with the movant burdened to establish prima facie proof that the legal action aims to deter, retaliate against, or prevent the lawful exercise of constitutional rights.

Lake is running for Senate and is being unduly burdened. A significant critique against the Superior Court is the delay in deciding whether a prima facie showing had been made. The Petition highlights the nearly four-month gap between filing the Anti-SLAPP Motion on August 21, 2023, and the court’s decision on December 19, 2023. This delay is deemed contrary to the intended expedited nature of the Anti-SLAPP process.

The heart of the matter revolves around defamation claims brought by Richer against Lake and the implications for First Amendment protections. The petitioner, Lake, argues that seeking a defamation award against speech, especially involving punitive damages, injunctive relief, and matters related to election administration, is sufficient to establish prima facie proof.

Lake says that there are hidden motivations behind legal actions and asserts that, in Richer’s case, the Complaint itself satisfies the prima facie burden. Richer’s lawsuit expressly attacks the speech at issue, and the petitioner contends that this alone demonstrates an intent to interfere with Lake’s right to speak on the topic.

In a statement, Lake told Frontline America:

“This is a censorship case—pure and simple. The government official suing me is being represented by Obama and Soros-linked attorneys. Stephen Richer ran banana-Republic style elections in Maricopa County and didn’t want to be held accountable. His use of tyrannical lawfare is an assault on our freedom of speech. It is election interference designed to distract me from the critical United States Senate race where I am the leading candidate.

He is okay with the First Amendment being trampled so he can save face.  This case should be tossed out, and in a just court system— it would be.   

If this case is allowed to proceed, protected political speech will no longer be saved, freedom of the press will no longer be protected, and citizens who want to speak out at School board meetings, city council meetings, etc., or who simply want to criticize government officials will be muzzled. If this case moves forward, American citizens across the nation will have to worry that everything they say could result in a defamation lawsuit. The fact that the fake news is cheering on this case is shocking and proves they don’t respect the United States Constitution and our First Amendment rights.

The case is on hold per the Arizona Supreme Court. Let’s see what they do.”

A crucial piece of evidence that makes Lake’s case is presented in a tweet by Recorder Richer on the day he filed the lawsuit. In the tweet, Richer openly states his intent to sue Kari Lake to end what he perceives as false statements. This statement indicates Richer’s aim to prevent Lake from freely expressing her views on the subject.

This is a case that implications for everyone. It is real- speaking truth to power:

The following Court documents show the unfolding legal drama between the two parties, raising questions about the adherence to procedural requirements, emphasizing the paramount importance of the First Amendment, and pointing to evidence that suggests hidden motivations behind the defamation lawsuit. The intricate legal battle between Richer and Lake unfolds, with broader implications for free speech rights in political discourse.

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