Kari Lake's lawyer sanctioned for 60 days for lying in effort to overturn '22 election

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An attorney who represented Kari Lake in her lawsuit to overturn her defeat in Arizona's 2022 gubernatorial election will be barred from practicing law for 60 days for lying in the case, a Friday court order says.

Bryan Blehm has already been fined by the Arizona Supreme Court for his statements made in Lake's defense, claiming it was "undisputed fact" that nearly 36,000 ballots were added to the results leading to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs' victory by about 17,000 votes. Even the Arizona Supreme Court had made clear there was no evidence to back up Blehm's claim.

Lawyers for the State Bar of Arizona, which handles attorney discipline matters on behalf of the state Supreme Court, sought a six-month suspension for Blehm, citing in part his social media comments that he was "guilty without a trial" showed a lack of remorse.

Presiding Disciplinary Judge Margaret H. Downie, in a May hearing, expressed concern that punishment might go too far and questioned whether the request was influenced by the political nature of the case.

Ultimately, she and two others on the panel that handed down Blehm's penalties went with a lighter sanction.

The panel, which includes a lawyer and a member of the public, concluded that a long-term suspension was "excessive for a first offense" that involved "relatively isolated and easily detectable misstatements."

Blehm will be suspended from practicing law for 60 days, beginning in 30 days. When his license is reinstated, Blehm will be on probation for one year. Blehm will also have to do five hours of additional continuing legal education in ethics and professional responsibility, "preferably regarding litigation conduct and advocacy," the order reads.

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He must also pay the State Bar's costs and commit no further violations of the rules for attorneys in Arizona: the Rules of Professional Conduct and the rules of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Blehm did not immediately comment on the order Friday.

Lake, who never conceded defeat to Hobbs, is now running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. Her lawsuit challenging Hobbs' election is pending before an Arizona Court of Appeals. To date, and through several trials, Lake has been unable to prove the 2022 election was rigged against her, as she claimed.

Even after her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case objecting to the use of voting machines was rejected in April, lawyers are still pursuing that case. Kurt Olsen, another Lake attorney who has been sanctioned and is facing disciplinary proceedings, filed a new motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday based on arguments similar to the ones rejected by the nation's top court.

Blehm has been involved in numerous lawsuits seeking confidential ballot information or to challenge election results. Last year, a state grand jury considered whether to bring criminal charges against him in a case that ultimately named two Republican Cochise County supervisors who allegedly sought to delay the 2022 election canvass.

The panel that suspended Blehm's license offered a skeptical appraisal of Blehm's lack of cooperation with the disciplinary process — and a warning of sorts after Blehm skipped the May hearing meant to discuss his punishment.

"Time will tell whether Respondent will conform his future conduct to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Had he appeared for the aggravation/mitigation hearing, the hearing panel would be better equipped to make this determination," the Friday order reads.

"Should Respondent engage in future ethical misconduct, though, a harsher sanction may well be warranted," the order reads.

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@arizonarepublic.com or 480-416-5669.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Bryan Blehm suspended for 60 days for lying in Kari Lake case