Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon disbarred

Former Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney Andrew Thomas and his deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, were disbarred today.  Another deputy, Rachel Alexander, was suspended from the practice of law for six months.  These were the county attorneys working with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who were accused of filing lawsuits to punish or silence Thomas and Arpaio’s opponents, and even filing criminal charges against a judge who had crossed them.  All were accused of a truckload of unethical conduct:

Charges cover a variety of allegations, including conflict of interest for holding press conferences to denounce the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which was his client, and threatening county officials with litigation; falsely claiming a judge had filed Bar complaints against Thomas, in order to have the judge removed from a case; and seeking indictments against county officials to burden or embarrass them. In one case, the charges allege, Thomas and Aubuchon brought criminal charges against a county supervisor even though they knew that the statute of limitations had already expired on the offenses.

The most serious allegations involve filing criminal charges against a sitting Maricopa County Superior Court judge without probable cause in order to stop a court hearing. Several of the allegations of ethical misconduct revolve around a federal civil racketeering lawsuit claiming that judges and county officials conspired against Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The independent Bar counsel appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court claims that the three prosecutors were incompetent in drafting the racketeering complaint, and that they filed it for purely political reasons against people they had already charged criminally or who they thought had filed earlier Bar complaints against them.

Thomas’ statements following the hearing are ironic, considering that for years Thomas and Arpaio have been accused of corruption in office, filing frivolous lawsuits, and bringing criminal charges against those who would not go along with them:
“Today corruption has won and justice has lost,” he said. “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.”
Thomas can still appeal the ruling, but for today Arizona has taken a huge step towards clearing out the corruption in Arizona’s government and cleaning up Thomas’ mess.
Gamso has more, and H/T to Gamso for this link to the ethics opinion.

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