by David Safier
At the Monday afternoon hearing in Judge Miller’s courtroom, words were spoken in heat, and nothing was decided except for a date for a two hour hearing in April.
Here is a summary that I hope is accurate. Remember, I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t pretend to play one on this blog. (The Tucson Citizen published a good summary/analysis of the hearing.)
The first issue, whether Pima County Attorney Bill Risner should be paid for his time working on the trial by the County, was tabled until Risner breaks down his hours to distinguish between those relating to the trial and those related to another motion.
Risner wants the Judge Miller to order the release of all the election databases since the County began using the computerized system – about 1998. He gave Miller an update on the release of more databases by the County than the judge ordered (all the databases from the RTA election and the 2006 primary and general elections). Miller claimed selective ignorance about what happened since the trial – “I think I read something about it …,” and stated he can’t take what happened outside the evidence presented in the courtroom into consideration. But he was very interested in hearing the different interpretations of the events at the Board of Supervisors Meeting by Risner and County Attorney Christopher Straub.
Miller asked Risner what his basis was for requesting still more election databases. Risner became heated and said Judge Miller had made a “grievous error” (I think those are his exact words) in his earlier, restrictive ruling. The County, Risner argued, carried the burden of proof that releasing the databases would cause harm, and all they did was create imaginary scenarios with no basis in fact (Releasing the databases would create Chaos and Mayhem, the Democrats might falsify the databases they received to accuse the County of rigging the elections). Since testimony in the trial demonstrated that no harm would result from releasing the databases, Risner concluded, Miller should expand his ruling to include the others as well.
County Attorney Christopher Straub was even more heated in his reply. Nearly shouting, he said the Dems showed they wanted to create distrust in the conduct of the elections by saying repeatedly to the newspapers and on radio that the RTA election was suspect, even going so far as dragging Bryan Crane’s good name through the mud by claiming that a simple computer error was an indication that Crane was trying to cover up illegal election manipulation. That shows, Straub maintained, that the Dems are determined to discredit the Elections Division and sow mistrust among voters. (I believe he even expressed concern that by raising questions about the RTA elections, the Dems were putting the bonds for the RTA in jeopardy.) He also stated that it is even more worrisome that others outside of the political parties will be able to pore over the records once they make their way into the public domain.
Nothing was resolved in the hour long hearing. Judge Miller scheduled a two hour hearing on the release of more databases for April 21. Miller, to his credit, wanted to schedule the hearing earlier so his decision could be acted on before the upcoming primaries, but the lawyers had scheduling conflicts that pushed the date into April.