While many of us have been following the de-evolution of the Arizona law system in Maricopa County recently (here), lawyers are taking to the street to protest against the assault on the rule of law by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Hundreds of lawyers took to the street to call for an end of the embarrassing reign of Thomas who has made his office an international mockery. Thomas has joined Arpaio in charging the judge who stood up to the sheriff with three felony counts — bribery, obstructing a criminal investigation, and hindering prosecution.
While he has offered little evidence, Thomas held a press conference with Arpaio to make vague allegations of criminal acts by Judge Gary Donahoe regarding the county’s planned court tower, currently under construction. While he admitted that he has no evidence exists that the veteran judge has received personal financial benefits, Thomas insisted that Arizona has a “very broad” definition of bribery. Arpaio insists that he and county lawyers have been conspiring to block his investigation into the construction. The evidence: a series of rulings that Arpaio does not like.
The press did not seem to be buying it from Thomas, who has been criticized as a bit of a lap dog for Arpaio. Thomas finally said in frustration: “If I’m not explaining this well, I hope you’ll help me. . . In fairness,” Thomas said, after enduring increasingly pointed questions, “I admit this is a hard thing to believe.”
Previously, Thomas attacked the judge for being soft on crime, here.
Local attorneys have had enough.
Attorney Tom Ryan spoke briefly and noted that he was not a criminal defense lawyer, a Democrat, or a liberal. “I’m a native of Chandler, Arizona, a Republican, and a lifelong East Valley conservative” but said that it was time for “all concerned men and women of the Bar to come together. Andrew Thomas is a bully and a coward.”
Shawn Aiken, a partner at Aiken Schenk Hawkins & Ricciardi, described how shocked he was when watching Thomas at the press conference in which he tried to explain just why he was charging Donahoe. He noted “[t]he probable cause statement attached to that complaint reads like a letter to the editor.”
If it means anything to these lawyers, well done and keep up the struggle. The question is where is the Arizona bar association itself?
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