NOVEMBER 14, 2016
Lawsuit Seeks Records of Settlement of SB 1070 Case Undermining Rule of Law
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it and former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce filed a lawsuit to obtain records of communications between Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, the ACLU and other groups challenging Arizona immigration enforcement law S.B. 1070. The lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court (Judicial Watch and Russell Pearce v. Office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich (No. CV2016-016945).
Judicial Watch and Senator Pearce’s lawsuit was filed on November 9, 2016, after the Attorney General’s office failed to respond to a request for records under Arizona’s Public Records Law. The request sought records of communications between the Attorney General’s Office, the ACLU and other illegal alien advocacy groups that resulted in a settlement of a lawsuit challenging S.B. 1070. The settlement was formalized in an agreement called a “Joint Case Disposition.” The September 20, 2016, request sought records concerning:
Communications, correspondence, and contacts between the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and counsel for plaintiffs in Valle del Sol, et al. v. Whiting, et al., Case No. CV-10-1061-PHX-SRB (D. Ariz.) concerning or relating to the Joint Case Disposition submitted to the court on September 15, 2016. Such records include, but are not limited to, records of discussions resulting in the agreement to submit to the court the Joint Case Disposition.
Under Arizona law the Attorney General’s office was required to respond “promptly” to the records request. After nearly two months, the Attorney General has failed to comply.
The request seeks to shed light on the unusual settlement of the SB 1070 case, including an agreement that the Attorney General would issue an “informal opinion” setting forth his “interpretation” of the meaning of certain provision of SB 1070. The agreement also provided for payment of $1.4 million of taxpayer money to the ACLU and other groups. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the SB 1070 law in 2012, but other provisions were left untouched, including a provision to allow police officers individuals for proof of immigration status.
“The public has a right to know if the Arizona Attorney General outsourced his work to the ACLU and other illegal alien advocates,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “By stonewalling this request, the Attorney General is thumbing his nose at the rule of law. And we have little doubt that this is all about thwarting any illegal immigration enforcement by a Trump administration.”
“With this settlement, the Attorney General undermined the rule of law,” said Senator Pearce. “Why is the Attorney General hiding his communications with illegal alien advocates? Why is the Attorney General negotiating the meaning of duly-enacted laws with the ACLU? When did the citizens of Arizona elect the ACLU as Attorney General?”
After filing the Valle del Sol v Whiting case in May 2013, the ACLU conducted a sweeping subpoena “witch hunt” against Judicial Watch and dozens of conservative organizations and individuals that had supported SB 1070. Among those targeted by the ACLU were more than twenty current and former members of the Arizona State Legislature, public interest groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, nine police associations, including the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police and the Arizona Highway Patrol Association, the Arizona State Republican Party, the Arizona African American Republican Club, the Arizona Republican Assembly, and three Arizona senior citizens who had no apparent connection to SB 1070.
Judicial Watch and Senator Pearce are represented by William T. Luzader of Luzader Law PLLC in Phoenix, Arizona.