Judge Rejects Arizona’s Request for Documents in Casino Case

Federal Judge David Campbell has rejected as too onerous several discovery requests by the state of Arizona in a case where the Tohono O’odham Nation is suing for the right to open its casino near Glendale.

The state of Arizona’s broad based request to obtain documents that would help it in its fight against the Tohono O’odham Nation’s attempt to build a casino adjacent to the city of Glendale has been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich had made several requests for discovery from the tribe. The judge considered some over them overly broad and said that others were “overly burdensome.”

The state is entitled to some information it didn’t want to reveal, said Campbell, such as audited financial statements and information on how much the tribe could earn from the project if it is only allowed to offer Class II gaming.

The case is in court because the tribe has asked the judge to rule that the state has no legal right to block the tribe from opening its casino. Judge Campbell has ruled in favor of the tribe upon several previous occasions.

The latest attempt by the state was made by Gaming Director Daniel Bergen, who asserts that the tribe engaged in fraud in 2002 when it joined other tribes in negotiating a compact with the state and selling it to voters.

The state contends that the tribe promised not to seek a casino near Phoenix when it knew it planned to do so.

Of one of the state’s discovery requests, the judge commented, “If taken literally, (it could) require plaintiff to search a vast array of documents concerning tribal employment patterns generally and employment details at other casinos.”

About another request, for documents relating to the casino’s possible impact on Maricopa County, the judge commented, “Read literally, it would call for thousands of documents that relate in any way to impacts the casino could have on surrounding lands, businesses, cities, safety, infrastructure, the environment, etc.”

Whether the tribe engaged in fraud or misdirected the public about its intentions, Campbell has previously ruled that the compact as written gives it the right to do what it plans to do.

The trial on the tribe’s complaint is set to begin in September.