Attorney Wilenchik cleared in 4 complaints to state Bar

From the Arizona Republic

Attorney Dennis Wilenchik was at the center of several political firestorms in 2007, all of them tied to Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Consequently, he was the subject of four complaints made to the State Bar of Arizona, the quasi-governmental agency that licenses and regulates lawyers in this state. Bar complaints can result in sanctions against lawyers, including suspension from practice and revocation of the attorney’s license.
And although the reasons for the complaints made headlines, the complaints all quietly went away in the past six months.

“It’s a very difficult process to have to wait on, but of course I feel incredibly vindicated,” Wilenchik said Wednesday. “There was never anything there.”

But as state Bar counsel David Sandweiss pointed out in one of the dismissal letters, the matters at hand were “contentious and high profile.”

• In October 2007, Wilenchik was sent by Thomas to confront a Superior Court judge over bail for undocumented immigrants accused of serious crimes. In open court, Wilenchik called Judge Timothy Ryan “a danger to public safety” and asked him to step down from all cases involving Thomas’ office.

• Wilenchik was the special prosecutor appointed by Thomas to prosecute the owners of the Phoenix New Times newspaper. The owners were arrested in November 2007 for a story they published about their own case. Thomas dropped the charges after public outcry. Two complaints arose out of the case. One item of contention was that Wilenchik was accused of trying to improperly contact the judge hearing the case.

• And earlier that same year, Wilenchik engaged in a bitter fight with the Pima County Attorney’s Office over a reported $30 million in money seized from a purported illegal gambling operation. Wilenchik managed to wrench the case and the money back to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s and County Attorney’s Offices.

But all of those issues earned him complaints to the state Bar of Arizona.

Bar complaints are not matters of public record until they have been investigated and acted upon, a process that can take years.

In three letters written in June, July and November 2009, the Bar accepted Wilenchik’s explanations of his actions (though it did not memorialize those explanations) or stated that it could not prove that Wilenchik had committed ethical violations. But the Bar left him with words of caution about his behavior, saying that the claims had “provoked a robust debate” among the committee members who considered the complaints.

Wilenchik’s reponse: “I was representing my client. That’s what lawyers do.”


  1. Even the Goldwater Institute has egg on its face over this one. The Phoenix New Times has never shut up about the arrests of its seedy publishers, who have been harassing Arpaio for years with articles smearing him, full of false claims. Lesson learned: don’t take the side of the Phoenix New Times over a conservative. Eventually the truth will come out.

  2. Hamilcarbarca says

    Well, there are a few good men left in our Justice System… Kudos to Mr. Wilenchik for sticking to his pricinples. How refreshing!

  3. Another setback for the bi-partisan Liberal/RINO establishment!

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving crowd!

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