Phoenix council candidate appeals case after learning judge’s wife supported opponent

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 5:47pm
Updated: Friday, August 12, 2022 - 9:56am

Moses Sanchez
Moses Sanchez

A Phoenix City Council candidate thinks the state’s highest court should hear his lawsuit to keep an opponent off the November ballot.

Moses Sanchez is appealing a lower court ruling after learning the judge’s wife supported his opponent, Kevin Robinson.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge M. Scott McCoy ruled last week that Robinson meets all residence requirements to run for election in District 6.

Robinson testified he rented a house in Ahwatukee to be eligible and stayed overnight there 15 to 20 times in July, while spending the other nights with his wife at their Scottsdale home.

Kevin Robinson
Kevin Robinson

An appeal filed by attorney Jack Wilenchik on behalf of Sanchez argues two points:

  • City code and state law define a person’s residence as where the person’s family lives and
  • There’s a reasonable perception the judge’s ability to act impartially was impaired because his wife signed on Robinson’s nomination petition.

According to the legal brief, Sanchez learned the trial judge’s spouse was among 399 people who signed Robinson’s petition the day after the judge ruled in Robinson’s favor.

It reads, “This fact was never disclosed to the parties, and whether the trial judge was aware of it is unknown. Also, because this case is an expedited elections matter, there is no time to file a post-trial motion in the lower court raising the issue.”

Wilenchik argues the judge’s decision should be vacated and asks the Arizona Supreme Court to hear the case fresh, with no deference to the lower court’s decision.

During the trial, Robinson provided photos of clothes in a bedroom closet, toiletries in a bathroom, and milk and Cheerios in the kitchen to show he lives there. 

Robinson’s landlord testified the temperature at the rental house, “mostly stays in and around the 86-degree range,” and home security video showed movement about six times in July. Robinson said after the camera was installed in January he often avoided it by using the back door. 

Robinson’s attorney, Daniel Arellano, pointed out his client used to own a home in and worked in the district for many years. He also said Robinson obtained renter’s insurance for the Ahwatukee location, received mail there and registered to vote District 6.

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