Robert Robb says State Bar investigation of Thomas “gross overcharging”

A m e r i c a n  P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N  S E N S E , in Arizona

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Arizona Republic writer who usually disagrees with Andrew Thomas denounces State Bar trying to take away Thomas’s bar license

“Egregious overreach….gives credence to Thomas’s claim that he is the victim of a witch hunt”

Overreaching bar investigator John Gleason
Overreaching State Bar investigator John Gleason

Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb, who trends down the middle of most issues, has written a scathing column slamming the out of control State Bar for attempting to take away Andrew Thomas’s bar license. Here are some excerpts:

The investigative complaint by Independent Bar Counsel John Gleason suffers from a common Thomas ailment: gross overcharging.

Moreover, part of the complaint rests upon a view of the ethical obligations of elected prosecutors that is hardly settled law in Arizona. In fact, it is safe to say that elected prosecutors uniformly reject the view.

According to Gleason, there is no difference between the ethical obligations an elected prosecutor owes his governmental clients and the ethical obligations a private attorney owes his private clients. Moreover, the same constraints that exist on private lawyers regarding public comments about court proceedings apply equally to elected prosecutors.

A private lawyer generally cannot represent a client on one matter and be opposed to him in another. And in public, they cannot say anything except that all judges are great and whatever happens in court is just hunky-dory.
Elected prosecutors uniformly reject the view that they are similarly constrained. They believe that they have been elected independently to exercise independent judgment and action not characteristic of private attorneys. They have a dual responsibility to provide other government officials with the best legal advice they can but also to ensure that other officials follow the law. And as independent elected officials, they have a right to speak out when private attorneys have to keep it zipped.

According to Gleason, because Thomas had an attorney-client relationship with members of the Board of Supervisors on some matters, he could not pursue civil or criminal actions against them on any other matters. Hence, he could not pursue criminal grand jury indictments against members of the board, sue them over taking away control of civil litigation from him, opine publicly that they were acting illegally, or publicly criticize court decisions and actions with which he disagreed.

This emasculation of elected public attorneys is contrary to historical and current practice in Arizona. It is not settled law in Arizona, and a bar disciplinary proceeding is not the proper venue to adjudicate it.

There are instances where Thomas ignored clear conflicts of interest, even given a more elastic view of the ethical obligations of elected prosecutors. He pursued a criminal investigation of the court tower after his office had advised the board about the matter. He pursued criminal charges against people he was personally suing in the racketeering lawsuit. Wading into the murky waters about the latitude of elected prosecutors was unnecessary.

Many of the alleged ethical violations are grounded in the claim that Thomas acted in bad faith for political retaliation. I doubt the evidence will clearly establish that. And there is an alternative explanation for events: Thomas and Arpaio…..actually believed in the existence of their grand conspiracy and thought of themselves as involved in some great Manichaean struggle between good and evil that required extreme actions. Given my knowledge of the two men, I find that actually more plausible.

The most egregious overreach is claiming that Thomas violated the federal “conspiracy against rights” statute for trying to stifle the ability of Donahoe to judge. This is a reconstruction era statute intended to allow the federal government to take action against the Ku Klux Klan beating up and killing freed slaves. Dragooning it into a disciplinary proceeding is the kind of gross overcharging that was so deplorable when done by Thomas and Arpaio.

This overcharging is a serious disservice. It is too bad the probable cause panelist, former Supreme Court Justice Bud Jones, didn’t pare back the charges before submitting them.

Unfortunately, the gross overcharging in the bar allegations gives credence to Thomas’ claim that he is the victim of a witch hunt.

The two State Bar investigators responsible for driving this are the Deputy Director/General Counsel John Furlong and the investigator from Colorado he appointed, John Gleason.Contact the State Bar at (602) 340-7239 or email the bar at to express your disapproval. John Furlong’s phone number is (602) 340-7301.

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  1. Robert Robb is always bashing Arpaio and Thomas. He must really feel the bar has grossly overstepped its bounds to be defending them. I’m going to email and call the bar now and complain. The County Supervisors have been corrupt for years, it’s disgusting that their slimy cronies at the Bar are enabling them to continue. Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox belong BEHIND BARS.

  2. This whole affair is reminiscent of the establishment purge of Evan Mecham with a re-call movement begun before he took office, and later an indictment which took two grand juries to pass!

    But that was enought to impeach Ev and the mission was accomplished despite the fact that by the time his trial was held, it took less than half an hour to acquit him!

    Thomas has similarly aroused the ire of our elites insofar as he and Joe Arpaio have rattled their economic cages by actually daring to enforce immigration laws!

    But there will be “blowback” for Andy as there was for EV. Most of those who voted for impeachment in the East Valley were swept from office in 1988.

    A good deal of the remainder were caught up in the AzScam scandal a few years later.

    There’s no dobut that the scent surrounding Mary Rose and Glen Stapely is far from aromatic, but presently they are on the bi-partisan establishment’s “political/economic” correct approval scale!

    Mary Rose and family have gotten away with murder for years, and given the make up of her political baliwick, I doubt if we have any chance of seeing her get a comeuppance at the polls.

    Stapely, however, is another story!

    It’ll be interesting to see if he’s got the gonads to attempt re-election next year!

    And if he does, it will more than interesting and enlightening to see who publicly supports him!

  3. Isn’t Don Stapley in prison yet?

  4. The first post is not by the Carol who has posted for several years occasionally on this site. Just to clarify. I am that person.

  5. Wow, Robb gets it. As time goes on more people will start to get it. After everything comes out, people will see how corrupt the Maricopa County Supervisors really are and what Thomas faced.

    The next election will see all the supervisors replaced. They are probably busy destroying evidence and covering their tracks right now.

  6. LOL! The funny thing is that the American Post Gazette excluded all of the parts of the article where Robb blasted Thomas. In the full article Robb explicitly agrees that Thomas should face disbarment charges. Robb’s point was only that Gleason’s excessive charges detract from the most serious charges.

    Robb says things like:

    “Making baseless allegations of illegal conduct by county officials is bad enough. But baselessly accusing judges who have ruled adversely about criminal conduct is an assault on the independence of the judiciary and a threat to the rule of law.

    There can be no more serious abuse of power by a prosecutor. So, it was no surprise to me that serious Bar charges have been filed against Thomas and two other lawyers in his office that may result in their disbarment.”

    Robb also says:

    “It is important that, to the extent possible, even those who support Thomas on policy issues come to understand how dangerously he abused his power in the racketeering lawsuit and the Donahoe criminal complaint.”

    The American Post Gazette is obviously written by shameless shills and hacks if they leave out stuff like that.

    Read the whole thing and you will see what I mean:

  7. VSB, the truth doesnt much matter in AZ. You just need to be louder about your conservative credentials than any one else. You obviously havent read the talking points by the “conservative” gaurdians of AZ, or you wouldnt bring up trifling details like the truth.

  8. Fred:

    For liberals, who adhere to situational ethics and moral relativity to lecture conservatives on truth reminds one of bacteria complaining about disease.

    The truth of this matter lies in the fact that Thomas’s charges were not given a change of venue and placed in the hands of a judiciary tied to the Maricopa County B.O.S.

    The real problem in Arizona lies in elititis cronyism which allows certain cliques to prosper at the expense of everyone else and the rule of law!

    Thomas and Arpaio crossed the “accepted line” by challenging this long time “status quo” and Andy is now being set up as an example to prevent others from attempting to disinfect the establishment latrine!

  9. Carlist,
    There was NO investigation of the judge before charges were filed. Is that situational ethics!
    You are the kind of blind sheep that followed McCain and Symington and prayed to them as the gods of conservatism – back when it was fashionalbe to call them conservatives. You probably also worship Brewer as a god of conservatism, even though she pushed and got a tax increase.
    There are cliques that prosper because of cronyism – Example Mayor Gordon places Billy Shields brother in law on his staff in charge of downtown projects. The brother in law then directs all developers to cut a check to Billy and Billy makes sure the the Mayors girlfriend also gets business. Thats cronyism, and it is not exclusive to Dems. The Real Estate class that hold most offices at the County and the City benefit from their insider knowledge every day.

  10. Carlist,
    How about this for cronyism, or situational ethics.
    Govs office does a study to restructure Dept of Commerce cause is sucks and we need more economic development. One of the main problems they identify is that the Directors in the past were selected through political patronage. So they re-hire the same Director – that had 0 Economic Development experience before he went to Commerce and was probably one of the reasons that he Leg and Gov targeted Commerce for the ax in the first place. He is there not on qualifications or record of achievement, he is there because he is Jerry Colangelos friend. Great Conservative Gov – no status quo, business as usual things going on there.

  11. What keeps getting lost in this debate is the fact that Stapley and Wilcox were both indicted by grand juries. While technical issues stalled the cases, there was evidence to charge them. While much has been made of the process, there has been little examination of the actual charges. Had the accused been conservatives, the narrative in the media would be very different

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