Posted by Michael Bryan
We here at BfAZ have expended considerable pixels over the past few years following, and criticizing, the abuses of Andrew Thomas as Maricopa County Attorney, and then his campaign for Arizona's Attorney General - and what a nightmare Attorney General Andrew Thomas would have been...
We've been harsh, and we've been critical. And we've been justified.
We saw an attorney violating ethical norms of the profession of law, and abusing his office in a flagrant and professionally offensive manner. We did not think him fit to excercise the tremendous discretion granted to a County Attorney. We feared the damage he might have done as Attorney General of our State.
His conduct during and prior to the State Bar hearing certainly did not improve my own opinion of him. He was arrogant. He displayed no recognition that anything he had done might be wrong, and no remorse. He tried mightily to derail the process, arrogating a position for himself above the ethical standards of our profession.
Now he faces almost certain disbarment. And I've literally never heard of any case where such a sanction was so well deserved and, more importantly, so necessary to restore public trust in the institutions of justice.
The closing argument of the Bar's Counsel has been filed and it is a doozy of a read. It is well-crafted and makes a powerful and undeniable case for disbarment of Andy Thomas, and Lisa Aubuchon, as well. Truly, even though I have followed Andy's career and the case against him, I had only a fragmented impression of the course of intimidation, abuse of power, and downright criminality that characterized Thomases time as County Attorney.
Reading the closing gave me a much clearer view of the utter abandonment of principle and obsession with revenge that Thomas unleashed upon the people and government institutions of Maricopa County. I now have a better appreciation for how a politically ambitious media-hound devoid of principles can wreak utter havok with the impartial administration of the law.
I can only summarize and give some choice tidbits here. I strongly recommend that you read the closing in full if you want to understand what has been going on with the Court Tower issue and Thomases legal vendetta with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors and the County Courts. It is 24 pages that reads like a novella of political skullduggery.
Thomas is accused of 22 violations of 5 different ethical rules:
- 7 violations of the rule prohibiting conflicts of interest
- 6 violations of the rule prohibiting the use of means to burden or embarrass another
- 4 violations of the rule prohibiting conduct that prejudices the administration of justice
- 3 violations of the rule prohibiting engaging in dishonesty
- 2 violations of the rule prohibiting engaging in criminal conduct
The heart of the complaint, and by far the most serious ethical charge, is that he and Aubuchon filed felony charges against Maricopa Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe with no evidence of any criminal activity whatsoever. That action involved comitting the crime of perjury and accounts for Claims 24 through 30 of the closing.
In the course of that monstrous misuse of the criminal process, he and Aubuchon filed completely false charges that did not describe any criminal conduct. "There was never any evidence that he (Donahoe) had obstructed an investigation or hindered an investigation. Filing false charges against a sitting Superior Court judge is dispicable misconduct for a prosecutor."
This Claim standing alone would fully justify Thomases disbarment. Indeed, restoring the public's trust in the system of justice requires that Thomas be sanctioned in such a severe manner.
Any public figure who would defend Thomas after this hearing quite simply has no respect for the rule of law and is a partisan fanatic who will excuse any illegal, immoral and unethical conduct so long as it is done by a member of his own faction.
Of course, there are also Claims 1 through 23 and 31 though 33, all of which also describe serious unethical behavior, these include:
- conflict of interest and dishonesty about a Grand Jury proceeding to Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores
- filing an incompetent and meritless RICO indictment without statutory authority, against their own clients and persons with statutory and constitutional immunities for decisions claimed to be conspiratorial conduct (the closing notes this episode "displayed massive incompetence, total lack of judgment and extreme arrogance")
- a vendetta against Supervisor Don Stapley and his associates that embraced conflicts of interest, misrepresentations to the courts, improper attempts to influence judges decisions, charging crimes without jurisdiction because of statutes of limitation expiry and improper public statements about a pending case
Perhaps the Claims that will have the most resonance and continuing relevance to Arizona's politics is that begining with the first charges against Supervisor Stapely and continuing through the attempt inimidate Judge Donhoe with false criminal charges, there was a concerted effort and conspiracy among Thomas, Aubuchon, the embattled Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his then-Chief Deputy Hendershott to take control of the Board of Supervisors. Henderschott even testified during the hearings that their goal was to force the County into recievership by their harrassment and misuse of criminal process.
There is a certain delicious irony that Arpaio may end his own career with MSCO in federal recievership.
Disbarment is a well-deserved and necessary end to the public career of Andy Thomas. His disbarment in Arizona is sufficient foundation for disbarment in any other jurisdiction where he may be licensed to practice, and sufficient cause to deny him a license should he seek to reapply to any jurisdiction in the future. Thomas has amply demonstrated his unfitness for the practice of law, let alone discretionary control of the devastating power of the state in criminal matters.
I expect that someday, and I think that day is not too far off, when Thomas is disbarred and Arpaio is no longer Sheriff, the tale of their crusade of intimidation and misfeasance of office will make some enterprising reporter a very fine book. I would be the first to line up for a copy. The tale of Thomas and Arpaio would make a modern American morality tale of how power can corrupt small-minded men given power and discretion they haven't the judgment or ethical compass to use safely.