State Senate, House attorneys file joint motion to dismiss Mingus lawsuit

Pro-consolidation committee also hires legal team to challenge Mingus

COTTONWOOD – In mid-July, the Mingus Union School District filed a lawsuit to keep voters from deciding whether its school district should merge with the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

Last week, attorneys for the state’s Senate and House of Representatives filed a joint motion to dismiss, as well as a response in objection to application for orders to show cause regarding Mingus Union High School District’s request for mandamus relief.

“The statutory amendment at issue, adding A.R.S. § 15-459 (B) (7), is not an unconstitutional special law because it adds a school district consolidation option to a broader statutory menu of options that could apply within at least 15 current Arizona school districts,” as quoted from the response filed Aug. 6 by Baskin Richards PLC, attorneys for Special Intervenors Steve Yarbrough, president of the Arizona State Senate, and J. D. Mesnard, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

“Because the amendment created by SB 1254 does not create a special law, the Court must deny plaintiffs any relief on that ground and dismiss all claims that assert special law violations,” the response states.

Attorneys for Committee for Better Upper Verde Valley Schools 2018 also filed a motion on Aug. 6 to “dismiss and response to application for order to show cause regarding plaintiffs’ request for mandamus relief.

On behalf of the pro-consolidation group led by former Mingus Union School Board President Andy Groseta, Munger Chadwick PLC stated in the motion’s legal argument that because Mingus Union “lacks statutory authority to maintain this suit” and “failed to vote in a public meeting,” the district “lacks authority to maintain this litigation.”

The lawsuit’s application for an order to show cause states that even if the consolidation petition effort was valid, “it fails” because the petitions “contained language designed to confuse and mislead petition signers.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Arizona Revised Statute 15-459 (B) (7) violates Article 4, Part 2 Section 19 of the Arizona Constitution because it is an “impermissible special law.”

Also listed as defendants in the suit are Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter, the Yavapai County Recorder, Yavapai County Election Director, and the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.

Consolidation hearing moved to Camp Verde, scheduled for Aug. 23

It’s still the case that Mingus Union’s lawsuit to stop voters from deciding whether its district should merge with another district has been moved to Aug. 23.

But now, the location has been moved – again.

From Camp Verde to Prescott – and now back to Camp Verde, according to Aug. 15 communication to the plaintiffs and the defendants.

The hearing is now set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Camp Verde, located at 2840 N. Commonwealth, room 133. Honorable Judge David L. Mackey will hear the hearing.

On July 11, Carter as well as the Yavapai County Recorder, Yavapai County Election Director, and the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors were served as defendants because of their collective role as “parties to the process” of a possible consolidation with the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

Listed on the suit as the Real Party in Interest is Committee for Better Upper Verde Valley Schools, the political action group led by former Mingus Union School Board member Andy Groseta.

Plaintiffs in the suit are the Mingus Union High School District, as well as three Yavapai County electors Michael Westcott, Cyndi Ricca, and Kassidy Thagard.