The judge who is overseeing a legal challenge to the Arizona Senate’s audit of votes cast in the state’s largest election during the 2020 presidential election has recused himself from the case less than 24 hours before a scheduled Monday morning hearing.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury recused himself from the legal challenge on Sunday afternoon after learning that attorney Chris Viskovic, with whom he’d had a prior working relationship, had joined the case, 12 News first reported.
According to a copy of the recusal obtained by the news outlet, the court received filings at 4 p.m. that included names of new attorneys, including Viskovic, who worked at the office of Coury “as an extern within the past five years.”
Viskovic now holds a position as a junior associate at Kolodin Law Group PLLC, which is representing the Florida-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas in court. Cyber Ninjas is one of four firms hired by the state Senate to conduct the audit.
The recusal notes that in accordance with the state’s code of judicial conduct and rules of the Arizona Supreme Court, Coury must recuse himself from any further involvement in the case. The case will be reassigned to a new judicial officer, it says.
It isn’t yet clear who will replace Coury, a Republican, in the case.
The audit taking place in the state’s largest county started on April 19. Companies hired by the state Senate are examining 2.1 million ballots, testing voting machines, looking for IT breaches, and performing a hand count.
The state-issued subpoenas that were needed to execute the audit were ruled as valid on Feb. 25.
Arizona Democrats filed an emergency request to block the audit on April 22. Coury granted the request the following day but only if the party would post a $1 million bond. Democrats refused, so the audit was not paused.
During a hearing earlier in the day, Coury did say that he would temporarily pause the audit until at least Monday so he could hear more about concerns Democrats laid out in a lawsuit.
Coury is not popular among Democrats, who campaigned to oust him last year from another four-year term on the bench over his ruling on an education ballot proposition called Invest in Ed.
The Maricopa County Democratic Party in October last year campaigned to oust Coury, creating a website that called him an “activist judge” after he ruled that the summary for the proposed tax hike for education was misleading.
The other firms hired by the Republican-majority state Senate to conduct the audit include Wake Technology Services, CyFIR, and Digital Discovery.
A report is expected to be released on the audit’s findings in about two months.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.