We have previously discussed the abusive tenure of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his unethical conduct in conjunction with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In a triumph of ethical ethics, a three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona Supreme Court has now issued a 247-page opinion (below) disbarring Thomas and one of his former deputies, Lisa Aubuchon, as well as suspending another former deputy county attorney (Rachael R. Alexander) for six months and a day for prosecutorial abuse. In the action, the Arizona Bar not only upheld the integrity of its membership of lawyers but all lawyers. In response, Thomas has denounced the decision and compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The bar seems to have a different image in mind. It began its analysis with this quote from Proverbs 12:15–17: “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.”
Thomas’ Gandhi-like record is a bit less inspiring than the original Mahatma:
Several prior landmarks provide background and context to this man’s story: earning a law degree from a prestigious school, joining a prominent law firm, moving into the heights of the governmental corridors of power, suddenly falling from such lofty position, safely landing with a political appointment, resigning to run for state office and a far more personal fall in losing, being hired by a multi-term county attorney but tasked to do menial entry level work, observing Lisa Aubuchon during a new employee training, running for office and winning, hiring Rachael Alexander in his first year in office and perhaps committing to do whatever he determined was necessary to remain there.
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.”
The opinion is a bit heavy on quotations from Aristotle to Eisenhower to Winston Churchill to Shakespeare. The opinion would have been greatly advanced without the famous quotations book. The opinion could have used a strong editor and a reduction in the rhetorical flourishes. It takes 5 pages to get to the preface and 24 pages to get to the prologue.
Atmospherics asides, the opinion drills down on the serious unethical conduct committed by these lawyers in engaging in prosecutorial abuse. This includes the finding that “Mr. Thomas and Ms. Aubuchon engaged in perjury, a criminal act that reflects adversely on their honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.” Not only is Thomas portrayed as a man destroyed by his own ambition and lack of ethics, but Auchuchon fares little better with the panel noting “Mr. MacDonnell and others straightforwardly informed Mr. Thomas that Lisa Aubuchon was in a fundamental way not ethically capable.”
Here is the opinion: 0410Thomas-Aubuchon
Thomas has not said whether he will appeal but he has promised to write a book. If so, he insists that he is in good company: “People like Gandhi, people like Dr. King, people like Solzhenitsyn, people like Thomas More, people who stood for something….and I’m going to stand firm.”