Worldnetdaily weighs in on State Bar prosecution of Andrew Thomas

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

Case against power brokers rebounds on county prosecutor 
Even harshest critics call bar association case ‘gross overcharging’

Posted: October 28, 2011
By Dave Tombers
© 2011 WND 

The antics of President Obama’s Department of Justice are legion,from its insistence on employing only far-left attorneys, its threat to prosecute the CIA, its scandalous “Fast and Furious” gun delivery system to Mexican drug cartels, its battle to overrule residents of a city who wanted to dispense with party affiliations on ballots, its refusal to prosecute the nightstick-wielding New Black Panther Party members, its lawsuit against Arizona for trying to enforce federal immigration law, and on and on.

It is in this atmosphere that a case has developed in Arizona that is blasting a former prosecutor and two associates for their attempts to follow the book and apply the law to actions by the systems power brokers as well as others.

It is so egregious that it has even the former prosecutor’s harshest critics are saying that the overreaching “gives credence to [Andrew] Thomas’ claim that he is the victim of a witch hunt.”

In 2009, left to right, are Supervisors Don Stapley, Fulton Brock and Max Wilson, Cardinals officials Steve Ryan and Luis Zendejas, and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox

That was from columnist Robert Robb, who has made made no display of supporting Thomas.

“I have written scathingly about the gross abuse of power by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” he said. “Thomas and Arpaio proclaimed that there was a giant conspiracy involving the county board of supervisors, senior county management and several judges in which the judges agreed to protect county officials against criminal probes in exchange for the county constructing a new office building for the judges.”

He said there was no evidence to support the racketeering and criminal complaints brought against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahue.

But he said the complaint brought by the Arizona Bar Association against Thomas includes “gross overcharging,” which he called a “serious disservice.”

Thomas, while not as famous as his county’s sheriff, the law-and-order Joe Arpaio, still was noted for his tough stances on enforcing immigration laws.

But now a trial is under way there in Maricopa County on charges by the bar association, which is seeking to sanction or disbar Thomas and assistants Lisa Aubechon and Rachel Alexander.

Attorney Don Wilson is defending Thomas, and summed up the dispute:

“Clearly this matter is politically charged,” he told WND. “My client dared to challenge the judiciary and powerful politicians.”

He continued, “Mr. Thomas was warned by his senior advisers that doing so could undermine his career, but he believed no one should be above the law, and that the electorate had entrusted him with the duty to enforce the law, even at the expense of his own interests.

“He believed then, and continues to believe, that he was doing the right thing.”

The case alleging misbehavior, however, was unsuccessful, and now the bar association has responded with an apparently politically charged 82-page complaint that so outraged the Maricopa County Republican Association that its members passed a resolution to denounce it.

That resolution reads in part:

“WHEREAS, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been leaders in the fight to crack down on illegal immigration, taking on activist judges who tried to thwart Proposition 100 (no bail for illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes), and investigating corruption at the county level;

“WHEREAS, in a politically motivated move due to its opposition to Arpaio’s and Thomas’s policies, the State Bar of Arizona, which is under the control of liberal attorneys and criminal defense attorneys, is attempting to take the license to practice law from Andrew Thomas, one of his former prosecutors Lisa Aubuchon, and discipline a third former prosecutor, Rachel Alexander;

“WHEREAS, even a columnist for the liberal Arizona Republic, Robert Robb, has denounced the bar’s investigation, writing about the bar’s investigation, ‘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.’

“WHEREAS, the state bar of Arizona has a history of refusing to take action against those who agree with their political philosophy;

“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Maricopa County Republican Executive Guidance Committee that it demand the state bar drop the baseless and politically motivated investigation into Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.”

The bar association complaint describes Thomas, Aubechon, and Alexander in some areas as “incompetent,” and in other areas as “dishonest.”

A reading of the complaint reveals it seems largely focused on Thomas and his relationship with Maricopa County Board Supervisor Don Stapley.

In 2006 Stapley tried to rein in Thomas’ ability to hire outside counsel for the county, saying that Thomas based his “appointments upon who was favorable to him, not necessarily who was best qualified to represent the county.”

According to the complaint, the board (under Stapley), wanted to oversee attorney selection and even hire outside counsel for the board itself. Thomas let them know on numerous occasions that this was illegal.

The complaint quotes Thomas as saying, “Board members are immune from suit when they rely in good faith upon opinions of the county attorney, but no such immunity would apply and they may be personally liable for actions on advice of other counsel.”

In other words, the citizens of Maricopa County elected Thomas to be the county attorney, and Stapley’s actions gave the appearance of circumventing the wishes of the voters, said analysts.

The Arizona Bar Association took Thomas’ admonition of the county board to be a conflict of interest.

A third party decision-maker, Colorado Supreme Court employee John Gleason, was appointed by Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Berch White to the case, and said in his complaint Thomas placed his own interests – that of wanting to retain control over hiring outside attorneys – over the interests of the county board, who wanted to hire attorneys on their own.

Thomas is then accused of using the office of the county attorney to investigate Stapley for criminal wrongdoing. In fact, a grand jury brought more than 100 charges against Stapley, ranging from failing to file financial disclosures, to accepting expensive gifts such as three-week long Hawaiian vacations and expensive ski trips for Stapley and his family.

The allegations arose that Stapley raised political contributions to run for president of the National Association of Counties, even though he was running unopposed.

The cash he raised was alleged to have been used to pay for personal luxuries instead.

But several judges who handled various steps of the case threw out charges, even though outside investigators had cited the “merit” of the counts. And bar association officials said the one-year statute of limitations had expired on dozens of charges.

Ultimately, none of the counts went to trial and Stapley testified before the bar that the investigation “ruined his life.”

Thomas also was accused of making public statements about the county board, including that a number of complaints were due to the “unusual chairmanship” of Stapley.

That generated the accusation that he was revealing information about his client.

The assistants were embroiled in the fight because they had filed various paperwork along the path of the cases.

Alexander played a small role in a racketeering case against the board and several judges that, before it was dropped, contained allegations concerning the use of $347 million of taxpayer funds to fund a court tower in the midst of an economic downturn.

The tower featured penthouse quarters for judges and raised eyebrows as it was done at a time when county employees were being laid off.

According to Thomas’ attorney, ” He [Thomas] believed (and still does) that his investigation was being hindered by the defendants in the RICO case.”

Thomas was forced to turn that case over to the U.S. Justice Department, as the county board stripped him of resources he needed to continue the investigation.

The DOJ, which also is suing the state to prevent it from enforcing immigration laws, has since refused to investigate.

Alexander also maintains a conservative blog called theIntellectual Conservative, prompting supporters to say that’s why she is now facing accusations.

The trial over the bar association’s allegations started in September and is expected to last into November. Thomas and Aubechon face disbarment, while Alexander may have her license suspended.

The American Thinker wrote an Oct. 12 that, “Arpaio’s and Thomas’ attempt to end local corruption has come at a price: the State Bar of Arizona (SBA) has begun prosecuting Thomas and two of his deputies in a move that reeks of political retaliation.”

And a article says the charges are “politically motivated” by the “Maricopa Machine.”

The “machine that knows how to protect itself by having all of the criminal charges against Stapley assigned to judges that ultimately dismissed them.”

The actions by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and now the Arizona Bar Association have alarmed many, including Thomas’ political opponents.

Ernest Calderon, a Democrat and former president of the ABA offered to review six charges against Thomas.

His assessment? “I do not believe that any of the complaints have merit.”

And what happened after that assessment. His pending renewal to a post in the ABA House of Delegates foundered.

In its statement, the Arizona Bar Association said it already has spent more than $280,000 on the prosecution. And spokesman Rick DeBruhl told WND there was no political involvement.

He said there are Democrats, Republicans and independents on the board.

But Prof. Geoffrey Hazard, who helped write the bar association rules, also concluded the allegations have “no merit,” and he said the bar association itself has acted unprofessionally.

Hazard noted that the chief bar association counsel had cited a Rule 53 – but then quoted only part of the rule.

He said the part of the rule omitted gives Thomas, Aubechon, and Alexander legal justification for withholding information in the case.

Whatever the outcome of the bar association process, the Maricopa County Republicans have decided:

“We, the members of the Maricopa County Republican Executive Guidance Committee, demand that the state bar refrain from any future politically motivated investigations of attorneys due to its inherent left wing bias.”

Read more:Case against power brokers rebounds on county prosecutor

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  1. The Bar overreached. They thought this was a sure thing and now they look like fools. This should provide momentum in the legislature to pass legislation that will move the Bar’s disciplinary wing out from under the Bar and Supreme Court over to the Executive Branch, where it will be held accountable to the people through election of the Governor.

  2. Did anyone watch Thomas’s testimony earlier this week? He ran circles around the Bar counsel. Even the judge finally told Bar counsel to back off. Unfortunately I am afraid this is a kangaroo court, since what judge will dare to rule against the State Bar, AND rule that investigations of his fellow judges were valid? It has been satisfying watching some of this trial online, as the whole story comes out. The stupidvisors are more sleazy and corrupt than anyone ever thought. The FBI showed up for their testimony and their hatchetman David Smith but not for the testimony of anyone else including Thomas. Looked pretty clear to me that the FBI is investigating them, but don’t expect the Arizona Republic to report that.


    Time to vote every single one of the Supervisors out of office, if they’re not convicted first! I am so sick and tired of hearing about them waste our money on expensive projects like the court tower that we can’t afford, waste our money shielding themselves from prosecution, and going after honorable men like Andrew Thomas. The Tea Parties have lined up candidates to run against every single one of them and have made it their #1 election priority locally. We need to support these efforts and make sure it happens, even in a gerrymandered district like Democrat Mary Rose Wilcox’s. After that, the Tea Parties are turning their focus on the Arizona Republic. Time to shut that Democrat Party mouthpiece down. It is a disgrace to our community. End your subscriptions people. The Examiner is spreading across the country and intends to supplant and replace local left wing newspapers. Let’s start reading and sharing articles from the Examiner and quit giving the Republic any visibility.

  4. GOP activist says

    The fact that this is getting some national attention doesn’t bode well for the State Bar Association. This looks a lot like the political witchhunt going on in Kansas after former Attorney General Phil Kline who attempted to take on powerful Planned Parenthood. This kind of thing is getting to be more common sadly. If you can’t beat the charges, get the Bar/ethics committee controlled by liberals to go after the prosecutor. This will likely be the start of a wake up call around the country now to rein in renegade Bar associations.

  5. Nordine crub says

    Guilty, Guilty,Guilty!

  6. True Conservative says

    Some observations:

    1) the basic argument found in the lead is that because Obama’s federal government suck, the Republican controlled Arizona state government sucks as well, therefore these folks are innocent. This is a complete non-sequitor.

    2) a subsequent argument is that because a newspaperman doesn’t think evidence will come from a trial, no trial should be held, no matter what the legal experts think. The truth is that we have trials to reveal, or not, evidence. We don’t go out to the newspaper and ask “tell us what to do.” We let them report on what we do. The tail should never wag the dog.

    3) The presentation of the case against these three is about as prejudiced and biased as one could imagine, but even within it there exists probable cause to move forward. After all, the newspaper guy thinks they abused their power (he just isn’t sure it can be proven) so we must go forward, under the logic of point #2.

    Finally, some observations on the comments.

    1) To a lay person, it may appear that Thomas ran circles around the prosecutor, but in the eyes of any lawyer, Thomas got his head handed to him. Here’s why.

    In law school you learn the basic legal syllogism: Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion. (IRAC)

    Issue = the facts
    Rule = the law, or in a criminal case, the elements of a crime.
    Application = mesh the facts, with the law and the cased that surround both.
    Conclusion = state the result of your analysis where every aspect of your decision is based in the previous work.

    What the prosecutor masterfully did was demonstrate that Thomas, a brilliant lawyer, could not support his case using even a first-year law student’s analysis. Repeatedly the prosecutor asked: what events formed the basis of the crime? What rule of law was violated? How do the events match the elements the crimes charged?

    And to each and every querry Thomas weakly stated, “you have to look at everything.” To the trained mind, that is tantamount to saying “I got nothing, but I’m not going to admit it.”

    The only question that remains is whether these three violated there dutied due to ethical breaches or intellectual ones. Did their hate for their political adversaries cloud their judgement to such a degree they didn’t know they were doing wrong, or did they deliberately do wrong?

    At the end of the day, the only way Thomas escapes is for the triers of fact to declare that Thomas was incompetant, not malicious. With one he gets to retain his license (I suspect he will), but with both he’s been laid bare as someone who can not be trusted with power.

  7. Looooong article, but it supports our constant position that the left uses tricks, lies, subterfuge and skulduggery to advance its goals. Thomas and associates did their job as they should have, but are reamed for it, just as Border Patrol agents are imprisoned for upholding the law, while the true criminals are released to perpetrate more crime against innocent Americans. Believe me, this will come to an end, and there should and will be hell to pay.

  8. Phillip the Great says

    Perhaps the reason this is happening is that the lawyers don’t want him running for AG again. He has to be an attorney to do that. So when he forms his exploratory committee he’ll be running for….governor!

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