Lawsuit accuses state lawmakers of hiding meetings

Attorneys Heather Hamel, left, and Aya Saed discussing in December the lawsuit they filed accusing members of the Arizona Legislature attending a conference of violating the state’s Open Meeting Law. /Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via PinalCentral 

The attorneys for groups suing the Arizona Legislature over claimed violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law are accusing state officials of playing a bit of legal hide and seek.

Legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court claim that the Attorney General’s Office refused to accept service of the complaint filed against the Legislature.

Attorney Heather Hamel said in the papers that a process server seeking to deliver copies of the lawsuit to Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers got a similar response. And Hamel said that Krystal Fernandez, the House Rules attorney, also turned away the process server saying”there is no such entity as the Arizona State Legislature.”

What makes all this important is that the organizations that filed suit in December can’t get the case before a judge until they show that the defendants — in this case, the state legislature — have been served with copies and given a chance to respond.

So now Hamel and the legal team have gotten permission from Judge Connie Contes to do something a bit different: mail the complaint to the offices of Fann, Bowers and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. And once that is done, that paves the way for the next step in the litigation.


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February 2020