The Prutch v Jewitt election challenge was not heard on it’s merits by Judge Michael Burke in the La Paz County Superior Court this morning. The case had been transferred by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge, after the the town argued successfully over proper venue.
Before the hearing could proceed, there were motions by attorneys on both sides that had to be ruled on. Judge Burke was prepared to grant a motion for change of judge filed by John Prutch’s attorney, Ellen Van Riper. However, Van Riper was forced to withdraw the motion because it would cause unreasonable delay and the early ballots had to be mailed out on April 19th.
Van Riper had also filed a motion requesting that the hearing proceed “ex parte”, meaning that the town had lost their legal right to be heard on the matter, because they had failed to file the required response to the original pleading. Judge Burke denied the motion without explanation.
This allowed controversial Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan to argue in favor of the town’s motion to dismiss, claiming that there was inadequate time to rule properly on the case. After all, the town had already printed sample ballots without including the run off between John Prutch and Mike Jewitt.
Judge Burke stated that although the case should be heard “on it’s merits” that would require him to stay up past midnight doing research, in order to issue a ruling before the early ballots were scheduled to be mailed to voters. Apparently preferring a good night’s sleep to giving Quartzsite voters the opportunity to have evidence of felony election fraud presented and ruled on, Burke dismissed the case.