Wilenchik and the lawyers working for him donated $3,100 on the way to that $3.9 million in work, according to a New Times analysis of campaign-finance reports. Burch & Cracchiolo lawyers and their families gave $17,580 to Thomas' campaigns — and earned $3 million in legal fees. Jones Skelton & Hochuli donated $4,855 to Thomas' campaign and won $5.9 million in work since he took office.

There's no record of any contributions from Jones, Day lawyers. It seems more likely that Thomas was just wowed by their résumés.

The lead lawyer on the case, Michael Carvin, is a former Justice Department lawyer who argued before the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of George W. Bush during the 2000 election debacle.

Andrew Thomas brought in an expensive D.C. firm to fight the probation program.
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Andrew Thomas brought in an expensive D.C. firm to fight the probation program.

Unfortunately for Carvin, he lost that case, too.


Regardless of Carvin's capabilities, Thomas had a big problem with his lawsuit. Simply put, on its merits, the case stunk.

In press releases and op-ed columns, Thomas claimed that the issue was about a separate court for Spanish speakers. He's tried to make it sound as though Latinos who get charged with DUI get an easier time of it than us poor whiteys.

Really, though, the program Thomas has so desperately tried to stop isn't about getting sentenced for your DUI — it's mainly about getting probation services en español after sentencing.

Here's the deal: Whether you're Anglo or Latino, if you're convicted of drunk driving in Maricopa County Superior Court, your punishment doesn't end with a few days in Tent City. Typically, for a year or two, you have to check in with your probation officer. You have to pee in a cup. You have to go to counseling and admit, time and again, that you're an alcoholic. Screw up any of these steps, and the judge may send you right back to jail.

Under the Spanish DUI program, Spanish-speaking drivers still go to the "real" court to plead guilty. They still go to Tent City and do the time ordered by a "real" judge.

Only after that, when it's time for probation, are they put into the Spanish-language program.

The program, quietly begun in 2002, was borne of frustration. Spanish speakers didn't always seem to "get it," despite treatment and access to probation. And what's the goal of probation, if not to help convicts learn to change their ways?

Now, county leaders tell me, many more of them do. And why not? They're finally getting services, and future check-ins with the judge, in a language they understand.

Only Andrew Thomas could turn a program like that into a civil rights issue!

But forget about all that for a minute. Let's say you agree with Thomas. Let's say the program should be stopped.

In that case, you should be really angry at Andrew Thomas.

And that's because the expensive firm he hired botched the case.

It's Lawyering 101: Any person filing a lawsuit must allege an "injury in fact." I can't just sue Sheriff Joe Arpaio simply because I disagree with his policies. I have to show that those policies have directly injured me.

Clever lawyers know how to find the right co-plaintiffs to make a case. When the Goldwater Institute sued the city of Phoenix over its subsidy of the CityNorth shopping center, for example, it enlisted local businessmen whose shops would suffer from the competing development, even as their tax dollars supported it.

Even as a non-lawyer, it's clear to me what kind of plaintiff Thomas' lawyers needed to pursue the Spanish DUI courts: A non-Spanish-speaking drunk who could show that his probation was tougher than if he were placed in the Spanish program. Or, maybe, a Spanish-speaking drunk who could claim he'd been coerced into "unequal" treatment.

They didn't bother to do that. (Hey, that would take work.) Instead, they just found a pair of motorists who'd been hit by drunk drivers.

They also filed the suit on behalf of Andrew Thomas himself.

Scot Claus, the lawyer for Mariscal, Weeks, which is defending the program, filed a motion pointing out that neither Thomas nor the victims could show actual injury from the program. Thomas' interest is "official," not "personal." And victims, despite their stake in the process, aren't really all that affected by what happens during probation.

Every judge who's examined the case has agreed.

Under law, the judges concluded, Thomas has no standing. (That's based on "well-settled precedent," the appellate judges sniffed.) As for the victims of drunk drivers, the judges found they didn't have standing either. After all, as the appellate panel concluded, the DUI courts "mainly operate to penalize DUI probationers rather than compensate victims."

"Therefore . . . the separate DUI courts do not cause any concrete injury to the individual plaintiffs as victims of DUI probationers," the judges concluded.

Well, duh.

I know that brilliant lawyers can't always be bothered with the little stuff. But for $361,626, don't you think someone at Jones, Day might have realized that before filing suit?

Thomas' public relations guy, Mike Scerbo, gave me this comment: "The County Attorney's Office will continue to do its utmost to combat racial discrimination in our criminal justice system."

How much do you want to bet they're still considering a last-chance appeal to the Supreme Court?

How much do you want to bet Jones, Day has already started billing?

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12 comments
Hank Hill
Hank Hill

I love how these right-wing conservatives are all for blowing big dollars when it comes to testing the constitution on some bullshit principle of theirs but if the cash involves actually helping someone they'd rather chew on glass.

My friend put it best yesterday, so long as the ignorant conservative blue hairs in Sun City and Sun Lakes keep voting we're ALL fucked.

Mari
Mari

It's time or Andrew Thomas to attend Law school. Maybe he can get into night school if he studies hard.

Wake up Arizona and Tourists!
Wake up Arizona and Tourists!

correction: 'Wake up Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau. You have failed to give full disclosure on what the Hell is going on in Arizona. And we WILL sue you for failing to give full disclosure of warning people about MCSO and MCAO, the DUI laws -- where first offense will cost someone a minimum of $10,000 not to mention going straight to jail, losing their jobs, hiring the corrupt DUI attorneys who collect full fees up front that are often $50,000 then let you wait it out, on the eve of the trial coerce a "plea bargain" and you move on to the next lawyers."

Scottsdales billionaires/millionaires who profit from Taser, Photoradar and surveillance contracts that are destroying peoples' lives and the future of the state, as they contribute to the "prison and military state" Arizona has become. There is no other industry but those with government jobs or those who are going after the people for their money.

I F..ing hate Arizona. It represents the worst of America!

Wake up Arizona and Tourists!
Wake up Arizona and Tourists!

Plain and simple -- Thomas and Arpaio have taken control of the government and the state of Arizona. F... their supporters! This is nothing more than a Junta like a Third World dictatorship. Wake up Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau. You have failed to give full disclosure on what the Hell is going on in Arizona. And we sue you for failing to give full disclosure of warning people about MCSO and MCAO. The DUI laws -- where first offense will cost someone a minimum of $10,000 not to mention going straight to jail, losing their jobs, hiring the corrupt DUI attorneys who collect full fees up front that are often $50,000 then let you wait it out, on the eve of the trial coerce a "plea bargain" and you move on to the next lawyers. The AZ Bar protects these lawyers who profit from bad legislation and vote for Thomas.

Fire County Attorney Thomas who belongs in prison for abuse of power but has total immunity and send Sheriff Arpaio off to his own jail created for criminals like himself. Enough is enough of these corrupt officials and those who pull their strings and sit on the sidelines -- you are complicit and need to pick up the legal tab for what they have cost the taxpayers. I don't know anyone who voted these criminals into power and these people don't know anyone either -- so go after SCA -- where's the 24/7 grandstanding on that, MCAO Thomas, Lisa Auchubon, Rachel Alexander, and fellow cohorts??

AZJayMan
AZJayMan

Why the hell is this blockhead still county attorney?!?

Does he realize that we are a freakin cash strapped state?!?(We are $3,300,000,000 in the RED!)

Does he realize that Maricopa County has LIMITED resources?!?

Has he seen the US national debt?!? (12,000,000,000,000+ and counting)

Andrew Thomas needs to leave public office FOREVER and EVER.

He should be stripped of his privilege to practice law in Arizona or ANY OTHER state.

What a waste of valuable, limited taxpayer money

William Crum
William Crum

Sarah, I would like say the article was brillant but we are talking about Thomas. How did he get his law degree because common sense alone would show the public how wrong he is. This man is wanting to be the State Attorney General: Lord have mercy on our souls if this happens because we can't afford to go back in history anymore.

Marcy
Marcy

Candy Andy is utterly incompetent. Thus his need to find a new elected office to milk.

He recently sued a variety of people, including judges. Is is fundamental law that you can not sue a judge for anything that has ANYTHING to do with his job as a judge. A judge can threaten to send you to prison if you don't pay him a bribe and if you sue the judge the case WILL be dismissed.

Yet Candy Andy sues just the same.

He is a fool but not nearly as big a fool as the people who elect him.

Coz
Coz

Unreal....

What a fucking bozo Candy Ass Thomas truly is.

The idots in Maricopa County that voted this moron should have to start paying for all this bullshit out of their own personal pockets, not the rest of the tax payers that were smart enough not to vote for this total jerk off.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

Great work, Sarah. New Times figured out that $42,000,000.00 (and counting) was the price of Arpaio's cruelty. It would be interesting to total the amount of taxpayer dollars that Thomas has wasted in legal fees to outside counsel, misuse of MSAO resources, and other ancillary costs to the county on his various witchhunts against political rivals. My firm represented one of the Defendants arrested at the Board of Supervisors meeting and we were shocked at the amount of County resources that Thomas was willing to throw at one stupid misdemeanor count. This misallocation of resources endangers public safety and should make Maricopa County voters absolutely opposed to letting Thomas take his circus act statewide.

STOP ANDREW THOMAS POLITICAL C
STOP ANDREW THOMAS POLITICAL C

Andrew Thomas is a bad lawyer, a bad adminstrator, a bad leader, and too self absorbed to realize anything is wrong.The mis management of public funds is a serious issue. When this man steps down next month and announces he is running for Attorney General. We as the voting public must stop themadness and save the rest of the stae from the antics of Andrew Thomas. All good dictatorships must come to an end.Andrew Thomas is above it all. Please help us end this man's career. He is dangerous and the veil of illegal immigration is old and worn out.

Out with Thomas!
Out with Thomas!

Sarah, great job in pulling all the facts together on Maricopa County Andrew Thomas. His abuse of power and the taxpayers is beyond the pale!

JJ
JJ

One has to wonder why Thomas, head of the largest law firm in Arizona, still feels the need to outsource complex litigation. For the half-million bucks in litigation expense tied he has lavished on this losing and immoral proposition, it is difficult for me to believe that Thomas could not have done this same litigation internally.

 
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