Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Fringe Lawsuit Contesting Kari Lake’s Loss

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Jan. 27, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought by self-proclaimed “civil rights” lawyer Ryan Heath against Judge Peter A. Thompson in Maricopa County, Arizona. Heath’s petition for a writ of mandamus (a court order compelling a party to take a certain action) asked that Thompson be forced to vacate (meaning void) his order in Lake v. Hobbs that dismissed failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s (R) election contest challenging Gov. Katie Hobbs’ (D) win. Heath, who works for the Gavel Project (a nonprofit organization that proclaims to “directly challenge[] the proponents of ‘woke’ culture”), argued that “illegal votes” were included in the 2022 election vote totals in violation of Arizona law and that “all qualified electors across the State of Arizona experienced some level of disenfranchisement” in violation of the Arizona Constitution and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On Jan. 27, the Arizona Supreme Court denied his petition. 

This case had an unconventional path to the Arizona Supreme Court. Heath, who was not a lawyer or a party in Lake’s election contest, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Arizona Supreme Court. Even though he did not file anything in the lower courts, Heath argued in his petition that he “exhausted all possible avenues at the lower Court level.” Notably, Heath did represent Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R) and voters in an election contest challenging the results of the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race, which was dismissed for lack of service. In this lawsuit in which he represents himself, Heath argued that he did not appeal the decision dismissing Borrelli v. Hobbs because he “wrongly assumed that one of the numerous attorneys in Ms. Lake’s [own election contest] would live up to the ethical duties of care to research the law and disclose to the tribunal controlling authority,” a decision he concluded “was a mistake.” Heath argued that the alleged issues raised in his petition were also present during the 2020 election but in the 2022 election cycle he was “uniquely situated to bring this action—given that [he] graduated from law school in 2020 and was not licensed to practice law until November of 2020.” 

Heath requested an order either: 

  1. Reversing the order entered in Lake v. Hobbs so that judgment is entered instead for Lake; 
  2. Setting aside the Maricopa County results for governor and and declaring a winner based “on the new totals of lawful votes cast throughout the remainder of Arizona;”
  3. Setting aside “all Maricopa County mail-in ballots cast in the 2022 general election with respect to the race for Arizona Governor” are set aside and declaring the victor based upon results excluding Maricopa County’s mail-in ballots or
  4. Holding a special election is to “redo the race for Governor.” 

Heath blamed the trial court and Hobbs’ lawyers for “overlook[ing] binding precedent requiring—as a matter of law—that the Maricopa County election be set aside based solely upon the facts admitted during the election challenge proceedings.” Going even further afield, Heath suggested that the proceedings in Lake’s separate election contest should be paused “to remove a tyrant,” meaning Hobbs, “from her illegitimate post.” 

On Jan. 27, the Arizona Supreme Court declined to allow this meritless lawsuit to continue. Heath’s petition is part of a growing trend of fringe lawsuits with conspiratorial claims that are filed by individuals seeking to overturn valid election results — a symptom of the “Big Lie” and pervasive election denialism.

Read the order here. 

Learn more about the case here.