The Arizona Court of Appeals denied council member-elect Laurin Hendrix’s appeal to immediately be seated on the Gilbert Town Council and have the votes by his appointed predecessor voided.
The judges on Wednesday called off the oral argument that was scheduled for next week, maintaining the ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court in September, which granted Hendrix the right to be seated on Nov. 3, rather than waiting until January per town custom.
Hendrix was partially satisfied with that decision from Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley, but he appealed the ruling in the hopes of being seated even earlier. He also wanted all council decisions made since Aug. 18, the date his election became official, to be voided until he could vote in place of Bill Spence, the appointed council member he defeated.
While the appeals court denied those requests, Hendrix still will be seated early, as Kiley ruled.
A town spokesperson said Hendrix told the Clerk’s Office he will be sworn in on Nov. 4 by a judge he chooses. The town declined to comment on the appeal decision.
“It’s not a complete victory, but it’s definitely a victory in the face of their efforts to keep him out,” Hendrix’s attorney, Timothy LaSota, said. “We faced fierce taxpayer-funded opposition.”
Who pays for the legal fight remains undecided.
Who will pay legal costs?
Hendrix asked the court to require the town to cover his legal fees, which his attorney calculated was about $34,000 as of Sept. 22. Gilbert is fighting against that.
The town has spent its own share of money on lawyers representing the town and Spence.
The town owed about $21,000 in legal fees to two outside firms for costs through August alone, according to invoices provided to The Arizona Republic through a public records request. That included about $15,300 for the attorney representing the town and about $5,600 for the attorney representing Spence.
Town officials said they have not yet received invoices for September.
Asked whether the costs were worth it to be seated two months early, Hendrix said it’s a question of the rule of law.
“Is it worth it to live under a rule of law or do you just want to let the towns or the bureaucrats choose which laws we’ll follow?” he said. “We live under a rule of law and we need to abide by the laws — and that applies to government as well.”
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.