A state judge in Phoenix flushed away the lawsuit by GOP lawyers Dennis Wilenchik, Jack Wilenchik, and Lee Miller, who aimed to overturn the election results in Maricopa County.
Superior Court Judge John Hannah had already dismissed their lawsuit and just released a ruling denouncing the lawyers for knowingly filing the “meritless” case.
The judge said the lawyers made amateurish mistakes, like not knowing the law, suing the wrong party, filing the case “way too late,” and asking for an illegal outcome.
The lawsuit on behalf of the Arizona Republican Party was part of a larger scheme by the party’s chair to spread disinformation about election results in Maricopa County. Republicans are obsessed with denying the will of the people.
The Wilenchiks and Miller are among the 21 Trump Lawyers Charged with Filing Bogus Election Lawsuits in Arizona.
Dumb legal work
The lawsuit was so frivolous and the lawyers so dumb that Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has demanded $18,237 in attorneys’ fees, payable by the GOP and the lawyers, for having to defend the case.
Even first-year law students know that a lawsuit has to show a right to sue (“standing”), must be filed on time, must have proof, and must ask for a legal remedy. The GOP lawsuit had none of these elements, according to the judge.
“The real issue, evidently, was the outcome of the 2020 election,” the judge wrote – not a valid legal issue.
Dennis and Jack Wilenchik laughingly claim to be “Superlawyers.” They and Miller all worked at Wilenchik & Bartness in Phoenix, but Miller left to be on his own. Miller charges almost $500 in mileage and hourly rates.
First, the GOP bunglers sought a “declaratory judgment” on November 12, seeking a hand recount using a sample of precincts.
However, a state law passed in 2011 has allowed counties to use voting centers, where voters from any precinct can cast their votes. Multiple Arizona counties used a voting center model, including Cochise, La Paz, Maricopa, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma Counties.
- GOP lawyers Dennis Wilenchik, Jack Wilenchik, and Lee Miller failed to act then, or in 2012 and 2014 when the Secretary of State adopted the Elections Procedures Manual allowing voting centers.
- The GOP lawyers were also asleep at the wheel when voting centers were used in the presidential preference primaries in March 2020 and the primary elections in August 2020.
- The GOP lawyers didn’t act until after the 2020 general election was completed, and after the GOP participated in the hand count audit based on voting centers.
As the judge wrote, “the request for declaratory relief was way too late.” The GOP lawyers didn’t know that the County already performed its hand count audit from November 4 to 9, 2020. “The report showed that the hand count matched the machine count exactly,” the judge said.
The demand for a recount by precinct would have been illegal. But the GOP lawyers Dennis Wilenchik, Jack Wilenchik, and Lee Miller didn’t know the facts or the law.
Failed shift in strategy
Then the GOP lawyers lost interest in the declaratory judgment claim. Instead, they demanded an injunction to stop the certification of the election on November 16.
Their case was dismissed three days later, and here’s why:
- The GOP lawyers Dennis Wilenchik, Jack Wilenchik, and Lee Miller had no right to sue – no “standing” to bring this lawsuit. The lawyers asserted no cognizable injury or damage to the GOP or anyone else. The GOP offered no facts indicating that the Arizona Republican Party, its members, candidates, and constituents had their electoral prospects diminished. Thus, the lawsuit failed to state a claim.
- The GOP lawyers incorrectly sued the Maricopa Board of Supervisors – the wrong party. “The secretary of state, therefore, should have been named as the defendant in this case,” the judge wrote.
- The lawyers had no proof of any “fraud.” The judge said fraud or impropriety “ought never to be inferred from slight irregularities, unconnected with incriminating circumstances; nor should it be held as established by mere suspicions, often having no higher origin than partisan bias and political prejudices.”
Arizona law categorically prohibits this kind of post-election lawsuit. “Actions concerning alleged procedural violations of the electoral process must be brought prior to the actual election,” the judge wrote. “The procedures leading up to an election cannot be questioned after the people have voted, but instead the procedures must be challenged before the election is held.”
Spectacular legal failure
As Secretary of State Hobbs argued, “the Arizona Republican Party filed this litigation seeking to disrupt democratic processes and delay Maricopa County’s official canvass of its election results.”
The GOP lawyers Dennis Wilenchik, Jack Wilenchik, and Lee Miller “continued to pursue this claim solely or primarily for delay or harassment. Its goal was always to delay Maricopa County’s certification of its canvass. To be sure, it failed in spectacular fashion.”