Rogers gets lawyers to defend injunction against reporter

Rogers gets lawyers to defend injunction against reporter

Sen. Wendy Rogers R-Flagstaff/Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

State Senator Wendy Rogers intends to defend an injunction against harassment awarded to her by a Flagstaff court against a reporter investigating whether the senator lives in the district she represents.

Magistrate Judge Amy Criddle issued the injunction barring Arizona Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez from contacting Rogers, R-Flagstaff, at her home following an ex parte hearing. Because it was an ex parte hearing, meaning without notice to Sanchez, Criddle relied on Rogers’ opinion before deciding to issue the injunction.

According to a notice of appearance filed with the Flagstaff Justice Court on Thursday, Tiffany & Bosco attorneys William Fischbach and Mitchell Antalis will appear as counsel for Rogers at a May 10 hearing challenging the injunction before Judge Howard Grodman, the elected Flagstaff Justice of the Peace.

Arizona Senate Republican spokeswoman Kim Quintero said she did not know if the Senate hired Fischbach and Antalis on Rogers’ behalf. The attorneys and Senate Republican Assistant General Counsel Kate Sawyer did not respond to requests to comment.

Sanchez’ investigation included an examination of publicly available property records that show Rogers and her husband bought a 2,200-square-foot home in Chandler for $750,000 in January and signed a trust document that said she resided in Tempe, where she owned a home for many years.

Rogers’ legislative district includes Payson, Williams, Flagstaff and Show Low but not Maricopa County. According to her most recent financial disclosure, Rogers claims she lives in a 1,000 square foot mobile home in Flagstaff.

Rogers and Senate Republicans issued a statement defending the injunction.

“Our members know that the media will frequently engage with us in order to document the happenings at the Legislature, but everyone deserves privacy in their personal residences without worrying about reporters repeatedly showing up unannounced,” Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said in the statement.

But in the hearing before Criddle, Rogers indicated she sought the injunction to teach Sanchez a lesson.

“So the idea here is for the person to learn their lesson and then leave the situation alone?” Rogers asked Criddle shortly after she agreed to sign the injunction.

Criddle issued the injunction barring Sanchez from going to Rogers’ residences after Rogers told the judge “it is not normal” for reporters to go to a legislator’s residence. The magistrate denied Rogers’ request to bar Sanchez from the Arizona Senate.

According to rules governing the issuance of protective orders in Arizona, the judge overseeing the case must consider several factors, including “good cause exists to believe that great or irreparable harm would result to the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted before the defendant or the defendant’s attorney can be heard in opposition and specific facts attesting to the plaintiff’s efforts to give notice to the defendant or reasons supporting the plaintiff’s claim that notice should not be given.”

Gregg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment Clinic at Arizona State University, said Rogers’ justification “seems completely inadequate to justify a lawsuit.”

The rules also state the person seeking the injunction must provide “reasonable evidence” that the defendant committed harassment.

The rules define harassment as acts of sexual violence or a series of acts directed at the person “that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed, and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person and serves no legitimate purpose.”