The Maricopa County judge said the Arizona Republican Party's lawsuit challenging the outcome of the 2020 election was "groundless" and in bad faith. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
March 16 (UPI) -- An Arizona judge has ordered the state's Republican Party to pay $18,000 in legal fees to the secretary of state over its "groundless" lawsuit challenging the results of the 2020 election.
Maricopa County Superior Judge John Hannah ruled Friday that the Arizona Republican Party acted in bad faith when it sued for a hand recount of the November election results, which saw then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden defeat former President Donald Trump.
Hannah said the party must pay $18,237.59 to compensate the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for its efforts to fight the legal challenge.
"The public has a right to expect the Arizona Republican Party to conduct itself respectfully," the ruling said. "It has failed to do so in this case."
Hannah dismissed the lawsuit in December, saying county elections officials properly counted the ballots and an audit wasn't needed. The judge said the suit was motivated by "public mistrust," not a desire for a fair election, citing the GOP's own admission.
"'Public mistrust' is a political issue, not a legal or factual basis for litigation," he wrote in the December ruling.
Arizona GOP attorney Jack Wilenchik told the Arizona Republic the party plans to appeal Thursday's ruling. He said Hannah's decision encourages "public distrust in the government" and serves to "stop plaintiffs from rightfully invoking the courts to hear their issues."
The lawsuit was one of dozens filed by or in support of Trump, attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. None of the lawsuits was successful in their attempts to change the outcome of the election.