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Superior Court judge recuses himself in case challenging Senate elections audit

County delivers ballots to fairgrounds for Senate audit
Posted at 8:57 PM, Apr 25, 2021

PHOENIX — Late Sunday night, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge was forced to remove himself from presiding over a case challenging the election audit underway at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Judge Christopher Coury said his recusal came after receiving new documents from attorneys defending Cyber Ninja's, the company that was hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to conduct the audit.

"In the documents filed today, several attorneys appeared whose names previously were not on notices of appearance prior to Friday’s hearing. 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," said Coury, in an email to attorneys representing all parties in the case.

The lawsuit, filed by the Arizona Democratic Party on Thursday, asked Coury to grant a temporary restraining order to stop the audit from moving forward after the party raised security concerns.

On Friday, Judge Coury ruled that the audit could be paused if Arizona Democrats paid a $1 million bond to cover any losses endured during the stop of work. State democrats declined to do that.

"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," said party chairwoman Raquel Teran.

The order was swiftly denied, but Judge Coury did order Cyber Ninjas and its attorneys to provide their specific procedures to the court to ensure the company is following 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," said Maricopa Co. Supervisor Steve Gallardo via Twitter on Sunday. "The Ninjas still have not produced any procedures or security plans as ordered. They are clearly unqualified."

A hearing originally scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday morning has been postponed. Coury said the court will assign a new judge to the case on Monday, but said he's unsure when the hearing will be rescheduled.

Late Sunday night, officials tweeted the audit will continue as planned.