Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Redistricting -- Judge Brain: Why can't Stertz just write an Op-Ed?

Judges can be tricky at times with how they pose questions to counsel. And because I don't know much about his standard courtroom demeanor, I can't speculate on the significance of the notable skepticism Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain expressed -- several times during this morning's hearing -- about Redistricting Commissioner Rick Stertz' desire to remain as a defendant in Leach v AIRC.

Judge Brain called the hearing for oral arguments on the AIRC motion for judgment on the pleadings, which notably called for dismissal of all five commissioners as individual defendants in Leach. Last Friday, Stertz' counsel filed an objection to the commission's motion saying he really did want to be a defendant. The judge wondered aloud why Stertz couldn't just write an op-ed. Wouldn't newspapers in the state readily publish it?

In last night's blog post, I briefly addressed that issue but really, WHO, given the opportunity to be let off the hook as defendant in a civil lawsuit, would want to stay on? Can we infer anything other than that Stertz wants to do his best to undermine the AIRC position and case?

Anyway, counsel for all parties, including individual counsel for Freeman and Stertz, were heard on the issue this morning. The only point made by Freeman's attorney is that he plans to waive legislative privilege. Of course, Stertz' counsel also indicated plans to waive said privilege.

That again brings up the question of why then does Stertz complain about having been treated by AIRC counsel in the Harris trial as a hostile witness.

Other than the Stertz drama, Leach counsel's position -- argued by Liburdi, not Hauser -- is that they want to make sure they are able to conduct all the discovery they can. There really was no passionate plea that if the commissioners were dismissed as defendants, that process would be hindered.

The other main point brought up -- by Judge Brain -- was the question of just when plaintiffs think they will be ready for trial. Liburdi indicated that would not take place before 2014. Which again elicited skepticism from Brain.

At the hearing, AIRC counsel presented a response to Stertz' objection.  The response argues that AIRC counsel had the authority to file the motion (which included request to dismiss the individual commissioners) on Stertz behalf and that Stertz should be dismissed despite his objection.

Besides, he can do his best to thwart the AIRC case without being a defendant. Really the only thing keeping Stertz on as a defendant would do is make Munger Chadwick's gravy train on the taxpayer dime continue nearly unabated.


AIRC counsel also sent a letter to Hauser and Liburdi with information regarding discovery and disclosures, with about 95 pages of exhibits.

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