An Arizona judge declined a request on Tuesday to sanction Kari Lake for filing a lawsuit trying to overturn the result of the state’s gubernatorial race.
Peter Thompson, a superior court judge in Maricopa county, rejected the case on Saturday, saying Lake, a Republican, had failed to prove there was intentional misconduct that cost her the race.
Both Maricopa county and Governor-elect Katie Hobbs subsequently asked the court to sanction Lake, writing: “This matter was brought without any legitimate justification, let alone a substantial one.” But Thompson disagreed on Tuesday. Even though Lake did not win the case, it did not mean that her lawsuit was in bad faith.
“There is no doubt that each side believes firmly in its position with great conviction,” he wrote. “The fact that Plaintiff failed to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence required for each element of [Arizona statute] does not equate to a finding that her claims were, or were not, groundless and presented in bad faith.”
While he declined to order sanctions, Thompson did order Lake to pay Hobbs about $33,000 to cover some legal costs in the case. Maricopa county and Hobbs had requested about $695,000 in costs from her.
Lake, who lost the race by about 17,000 votes, was one of the most prominent spreaders of election misinformation in the 2022 campaign. She repeatedly said on the campaign trail, falsely, that the 2020 election was stolen. Ahead of the gubernatorial race this year, she declined to say whether she would accept the results if she lost.
Lake is appealing her loss in the case as well as the order to pay legal fees. She has indicated she will take the case all the way to the Arizona supreme court, though any appeal would have to move quickly since Hobbs is set to be sworn in on Tuesday, the Arizona Republic reported.