PHOENIX - A judge in Arizona has dismissed a restraining order that was previously granted to an Arizona state lawmaker.
In April, we reported that State Sen. Wendy Rogers was granted the order by a Flagstaff area magistrate against a local journalist who was researching a story about whether the lawmaker lives in the district she represents.
Rogers alleged that reporter Camryn Sanchez with the Arizona Capitol Times was stalking her at her private residences, so she filed a petition for an injunction against harassment.
"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 Howard Grodman said after a hearing in Flagstaff Justice Court. "The strongest point is investigative reporting is a legitimate purpose. lt just is."
A different judge approved the Republican lawmaker’s request for an injunction last month against reporter Camryn Sanchez, sparking an outcry from journalists and First Amendment advocates. The hearing was held without any notice given to Sanchez.
Rogers, a Republican, represents the state's 7th Legislative District. The district, located in Northern Arizona, includes Flagstaff, but public records also show Rogers has homes in the Phoenix area. Sanchez reportedly rang the doorbell at Rogers’ homes in Tempe and Chandler on several occasions.
"There is certainly a legitimate purpose in investigative reporting, so I’m going to dismiss the injunction," said Flagstaff Justice Court Justice of the Peace Howard Grodman, when he issued his ruling on the case.
Several state senators were also at the hearing in support of Rogers. All state lawmakers left the courthouse without making themselves available to comment on the dismissal.
Where does Rogers live?
The question that was trying to be answered is about where Rogers actually lives. We have visited all three residences owned and affiliated with Rogers, which we found in public documents, and people at a Flagstaff mobile home park claim Rogers does live there, which is also the address listed on her nomination papers.
During an interview with a Flagstaff radio station, Rogers confirmed she spends time at the Flagstaff home, which is located in the district she represents.
"I have been since 2015. Yesterday, I was at my [Veterans of Foreign Wars], of which I’m a lifetime member, and I love Flagstaff, so yes, we’ve lived here, as I said, since 2015," said Rogers, during the interview with KAFF.
Rogers has also owned a home in Tempe for the past decade No one answered the door after we rang the doorbell, but area residents said Rogers and her husband have lived at the Tempe house for several years.
Public records also show Rogers purchased a home in Chandler earlier in 2023.
According to a State Senate GOP spokesperson, all members who represent districts outside of Maricopa County have an alternate residence within the county, where they live during the legislative session.
During her testimony in the case, Rogers admitted to owning and and living at two other homes in Tempe and Chandler. She also admitted to receiving a per-diem given to lawmakers who live outside of Maricopa County, which amounted to over $19,000 per year.
Lawyer sounds off
Prior to the judge's decision to dismiss the injunction, legal and journalism experts were sounding off on the injunction Rogers received. They say the restraining order sent a bad message.
"It’s just a bad idea for politicians to say they have a right to legally stop reporters from asking questions," said Arizona State University law professor Gregg Leslie. "This is First Amendment protected activity. If this is a real threat to a politician, like, threaten their physical safety, it would make more sense, but absent real threats like that, I don’t think there's a way this will really stand."