A Mesa District Court judge quashed the warrant for Tina Peters’ arrest Friday, but he made it clear that the violation of his order not to travel without court permission was “remarkable” and that “it will not happen again.”
At an afternoon hearing, Judge Matthew Barrett ruled that Peters, the Mesa County clerk and recorder who has become a symbol for those who baselessly believe elections are being stolen, would not be allowed to travel moving forward without filing a motion that would go through the regular court process to get approval.
Now that she is no longer a candidate for secretary of state after losing her primary and being on paid leave from her job at the clerk’s office, the judge said she has no reason to continue that type of travel. Additionally, with the access to financial resources and even private jets that Peters has, and the time she did leave to an unknown location last year, Barrett considers her a flight risk.
Peters was out on bail in the criminal case in which she faces 10 charges related to allegations of election equipment tampering. On Monday, she traveled to speak at a Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in Las Vegas without the court’s permission, violating her bail conditions and leading to the warrant for her arrest. But her attorney Harvey Steinberg said Peters didn’t know about the prohibition.
Peters’ attorneys had previously come to an agreement with District Attorney Dan Rubinstein that she could travel out of state while campaigning for the GOP nomination for secretary of state as long as she provided notice to her attorney and the court. But after she lost the race last month, Rubinstein filed a motion to prevent her from traveling without advance court approval.
On Monday, Barrett issued an order preventing that travel until attorneys and the judge could discuss the issue in a hearing. However, Peters traveled that same night to Nevada. Steinberg said Peters had notified him that she was traveling, but that he missed her email as well as the court’s most recent order revoking permission to travel. It was also noted at Friday’s hearing that Peters left a day prior to when she said she would be, which also violated the previous agreement.
“She knew at a minimum … when she got on plane Monday at 7:40 pm that that was a flight that the court had not approved, had not received notice of,” Barrett said. “These aren’t little things. This matters.”
Barrett repeatedly told Steinberg that he found it “remarkable” and “incredible” that something like this could occur, and that although Peters has three attorneys, none of them informed her of his order until Thursday. Steinberg said both he and his staff missed the order and that the attorney takes the blame for the mistake. But the judge noted that the system showed one of Peters’ other attorneys had seen the order on the day he issued it.
He also said the whole problem could possibly have been avoided if the DA’s office had just called Steinberg to address the problem.
Although the judge said he couldn’t find a good cause for this to have happened, because Peters showed up to court and the DA’s office didn’t object to quashing the warrant, he would allow Peters to avoid jail this time.
Still, Barrett concluded that “out-of-state travel should not be so freely authorized,” and said he’s concerned about his orders not being followed, attorneys not meeting their obligations and Peters not complying.
“You leave one minute before the time you tell me you’re going to leave, that is a violation of your bond,” Barrett told Peters.
Peters has faced multiple local, state and federal investigations over the past year, some of which are ongoing. She was also barred from overseeing the 2021 and 2022 elections in Mesa County.