Legal Ethics

Ex-Maricopa County Attorney and Deputy Disbarred by Ariz. Disciplinary Panel; 3rd Lawyer Suspended

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A three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred a controversial former Maricopa County Attorney and one of his former deputies and suspended another former deputy county attorney for six months and a day, saying the trio misused their prosecutorial powers for political purposes.

The Tucson Citizen provides a link to the 247-page opinion (PDF).

Although a few charges were dismissed, the panel held that clear and convincing evidence showed Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon abused their authority by attempting to prosecute two county supervisors, a judge and others for purported misconduct. Instead of acting in the interest of justice, they often acted unethically to hurt their political enemies, the panel said.

The panel also found that the two acted with dishonesty and failed to cooperate with an Arizona State Bar investigation, the Phoenix New Times’ Valley Fever blog reports.

Rachel Alexander, a less experienced lawyer with the county, was punished for her role in working on a controversial federal civil racketeering lawsuit against judges and other county officials, the Arizona Republic reports.

Thomas, Aubuchon and Alexander all skipped this morning’s hearing, the Valley Fever post notes.

However, Thomas reacted afterward, the Republic reported:

Calling the decision a “travesty,” Thomas said: “Today, corruption has won, and justice has lost. I brought corruption cases in good faith involving powerful people, and the political and legal establishment blatantly covered up and retaliated by targeting my law license. Arizona has some of the worst corruption in America, according to a recent national survey. The political witch hunt that’s just ended makes things worse by sending a chilling message to prosecutors: Those who take on the powerful will lose their livelihood.”

He declined to comment further and said he would hold a news conference on Wednesday to respond in detail, the Republic says. (A subsequent post describes what was said at the news conference, at which Thomas compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.)

The Associated Press also has a story.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “The Maricopa Courthouse War”

ABA Journal: “The Prosecutor on Trial: Ex-Maricopa County Attorney Faces Disbarment for Political Acts” “Judge Tosses Maricopa County Suits, Warns About ‘Inflammatory’ Language in Redrafted Complaints” “Ex-Maricopa County Attorney Skips Ethics Trial as Defense Lawyers Imply Case Is Political Payback”

Updated on April 12 to include information from subsequent post on Thomas press conference.

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