Judge throws out Sen. Wendy Rogers’ restraining order request against reporter
FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — A Flagstaff judge tossed out Wednesday Sen. Wendy Rogers’ request for a restraining order against a reporter. Rogers asked the court to stop Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez from investigating claims about where she lives, saying she was being harassed. Sanchez was looking into whether Rogers lives outside the northern Arizona district she represents and visited two of Rogers’ homes in Tempe and Chandler. However, Judge Howard Grodman dismissed the injunction, stating Rogers could tell Sanchez not to go to her house.
“I don’t think there is a series of events directed at Sen. Rogers that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed even if she in fact was,” Judge Grodman said after a hearing in Flagstaff Justice Court. “The strongest point is investigative reporting is a legitimate purpose. lt just is.” He says moving forward, Rogers is welcome to put a no trespassing sign in front of her houses, but showing up uninvited to knock on someone’s door isn’t a form of harassment. “Kids come on Halloween and knock on doors. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors, as have you Senator Rogers,” he said.
A different judge approved the Republican lawmaker’s request for an injunction last month, sparking criticism among media outlets. Some said a restraining order would violate First Amendment rights and hurt the press. The hearing was held without any notice given to Sanchez.
Sanchez approached both East Valley homes last month to ask if Rogers or anyone in her family was present and to talk to neighbors. Rogers cited the interactions and an instance in February when Sanchez approached her on the Senate floor with questions as evidence of harassment. She claimed Sanchez had been verbally warned last year not to go up to her there. However, the journalist testified that nobody gave her such a warning last year. “The idea here is for the person to learn their lesson and then leave the situation alone, correct?” Rogers told the judge at the time, according to audio from the hearing. “I assure you; we’ve tried to be diplomatic and reasonable up to this point. When someone comes to your house, that’s just over the top.”
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan says if Rogers’ primary home is in Tempe or Chandler, it would have political and financial implications. “Number one, that would mean she is not qualified to hold the position as senator of her district because it does not include Chandler or Tempe. And number two she should disgorge the per diem that she has received upon this perhaps false claim,” he explained.
Sanchez’s attorney says they’ll be submitting a claim for Rogers to pay for the court costs. Sanchez says after the restraining order was dismissed, she felt good about the decision but isn’t sure what’s next in the investigation. “I don’t know exactly how we’re going to pursue this particular story in the future or if it’ll be me. But we do have other information,” she said.
Arizona’s Family reached out to Senate Republicans for documentation of Rogers’ per diem payments related to where she lives, but they weren’t available at this time.
Copyright 2023 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.