On Wednesday, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth took back his order from yesterday that paused the Recall Dunleavy campaign pending expedited appeal, saying it was issued accidentally while he was out of town. The new ruling allows the Recall campaign to proceed with plans for the second signature-gathering phase barring intervention by the Alaska Supreme Court.
Aarseth is the lower court judge overseeing the case brought by lawyers for the Recall campaign after the State originally rejected the campaign’s grounds for recall. In a decision on January 10, Judge Aarseth found that all but one part of the campaign’s four grounds are legally sufficient. Following that ruling, Aarseth ordered the state to have the signature booklets prepared no later than February 10. Once the new signature-gathering phase begins, the Recall campaign will need over 71,000 signatures of registered Alaskan voters to put the recall question on the ballot.
Dunleavy’s defenders have promised to appeal Aarseth’s January 10 decision to the Alaska Supreme Court, and also said they would ask Aarseth for a “stay” to block the state from issuing the petitions until the Alaska Supreme Court rules on their appeal. At the time, Aarseth said it was unlikely he would grant that request for a stay.
So it was surprising on Tuesday when Judge Aarseth granted the request after all. He issued a signed, stamped order that said: “This matter is stayed pending resolution of this case in the Alaska Supreme Court.” Then on Wednesday, he reversed himself, saying the previous day’s ruling was “inadvertent” and revoked.
According to reporting by Alaska Public Media,
Late Wednesday, the Alaska Court System released a statement saying Aarseth had been out of town on an “urgent family issue” and, by phone, agreed to grant a separate motion from Jamieson that asked only for “expedited consideration” of the request for a stay. The request for the stay itself, the statement added, “was inadvertently granted as well.”
Technically, Dunleavy’s legal team’s request for a stay is now pending again. The Recall campaign has already filed its motion opposing the stay following Tuesday’s inadvertent ruling. Judge Aarseth has now asked the Stand Tall With Mike legal team to file its final reply by Thursday.
The Recall Dunleavy campaign released a statement following the Court’s reversal:
We are gratified that Judge Aarseth promptly recognized and corrected this administrative mistake. It is once again clear that Alaskans are entitled to received Recall petitions and begin signature gathering no later than February 10th.