Stephen Richer’s Lawsuit Against Kari Lake, the Lake for Governor Campaign, and the Lake Fundraising Organization Will Proceed

  • December 20, 2023
Judge Denies Motions to Dismiss the Case, Allowing Case to Proceed

Phoenix, AZ – Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County Recorder, has defeated motions to dismiss his defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake, the Lake for Governor Campaign, and the Lake Fundraising Organization. The defendants’ motions were denied by Superior Court Judge Jay Adelman, and the case can now proceed. Richer, in his personal capacity, sued the Defendants to recover for the harms they caused him and his family by making false and defamatory statements about him on social media and in speeches after their 2022 election loss.

“I’m grateful that the Court rejected the Defendants’ efforts to avoid accountability for their campaign of false, defamatory statements,” said Stephen Richer. “My family and I have faced endless and vile threats, including calls for our execution, and I’ve lost important personal relationships and seen my reputation severely damaged by the Defendants. Working as a public servant should not lead to death threats, harassment, or defamation. No one is above the rule of law in this country, and I look forward to continuing my pursuit of justice.” 

The Judge found that various statements that the Defendants made about Richer — falsely accusing him of attempting to sabotage the 2022 election — gave rise to actionable defamation claims. He also rejected the Defendants arguments that their statements were mere hyperbole. As a result, the Judge concluded that Richer “has set forth a factual and legal basis — consistent with First Amendment principles — to bring his defamation claims against these Defendants.”

“As the Court recognized, the right to free speech enshrined in the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions has never protected the sort of false and defamatory statements the Defendants spread about Mr. Richer.” said Ben Berwick, counsel at Protect Democracy. “The court’s decision today is the first step in this important effort to hold those who harmed Mr. Richer to account.”

“The Court’s decision ensures that Mr. Richer will get his day in court,” said Larry Schwartztol, a professor at Harvard Law School, where he directs the Democracy and Rule of Law Clinic. “The defamation challenged in this case has caused Mr. Richer real harm, and we are grateful that this case will move forward.”

“The Court’s decision adheres to longstanding First Amendment precedent,” said Jennifer Windom, a Partner at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. “As the Court recognized, there is no First Amendment right to knowingly or recklessly spread false information about someone.”

Related Content