A Maricopa County Superior Court judge late Sunday recused himself from a case challenging an election audit underway at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix after he got new documents from attorneys representing the company hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to conduct the procedure.
"In the documents filed today, several attorneys appeared whose names previously were not on notices of appearance prior to Friday’s hearing," Judge Christopher Coury said in an email to attorneys representing both sides in the case, reports ABC-15 in Phoenix. "That is not surprising, given the short fuse in which the hearings have proceeded. The involvement of one attorney whose name appeared on the filings for the first time today requires me to recuse."
A hearing had originally been scheduled for Monday, but it has been postponed. Coury said the court will also assign a new judge on Monday, but he is not sure when the delayed hearing will be rescheduled, and Sunday night, officials tweeted the audit will go on as planned.
The audit almost ended before it started. Coury on Friday ordered the Arizona Senate to pause the procedure, but only if the state's Democratic Party, which wanted the audit stopped, could post a $1 million bond that would cover additional costs from the delay.
However, the party said it would not post the money to stop the recount. It had brought a last-minute court action with Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo — the board's only Democrat — claiming the audit process violated state election laws.
"The Arizona Democratic Party will not risk our supporters' hard-earned dollars to pay off the Cyber Ninjas for a procedure they are billing Arizona taxpayers to the tune of $150,000," party Chairwoman Raquel Terans said.
Coury, however, ordered Cyber Ninjas and its attorneys to provide details about their specific procedures to the court so it could ensure the company is abiding by state and federal election laws.
"On Friday, the Judge affirmed our claims that the @AZSenateGOP and Cyber Ninjas do not have policies and procedures in place to protect the sanctity of the ballots," Gallardo said on Twitter Sunday. "The Ninjas still have not produced any procedures or security plans as ordered. They are clearly unqualified."
He also argued that Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas have not "allowed media or public to view their sham audit and now they want to keep the media and public from viewing the court proceedings. What are the Senate GOP and Cyber Ninja trying to hide?"
Teams of three workers each on Saturday inspected the ballots for anything that could be found that would change a vote from being for now-President Joe Biden and put it into the tally for then-President Donald Trump. Maricopa County's own audits did not turn up evidence of widespread problems.
Gallardo last week said on Twitter that he sued to stop the audit to "protect the sanctity of the ballots and more importantly to preserve voters’ privacy from a sham audit that has been corrupted by agitators and conspiracy theorists. This corrupted process will not be transparent, dark money influencers have handed picked the folks to observe and witness the “audit” that will be conducted by an uncertified and unqualified group."
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