An unrepentant Lisa Aubuchon is testifying at the moment before a hearing panel that is considering serious disciplinary action against her, her ex-boss County Attorney Andrew Thomas and another attorney.
Aubuchon has been trying to explain the litany of oft-told events that led to the ongoing hearings at the Arizona Supreme Court. She and Thomas face possible disbarment, and the third attorney, Rachel Alexander, may be suspended from the practice of law.
A few minutes ago, she told State Bar independent counsel James Sudler that she still believes then-presiding criminal judge Gary Donahoe was guilty of felony "bribery."
Those following all this county craziness will recall that Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio brought the unprecedented charges against Donahoe in December 2009, hours before the judge was to consider motions that could have taken the ongoing criminal cases against supervisors Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
Aubuchon testified that Donahoe had been obstructing "all of the investigations" that prosecutors (actually her) were trying to conduct into alleged improprieties in the planning and construction of the county Court Tower, into supervisors Stapley and Wilcox, and other matters.
She said that Judge Donahoe should have been arrested because "he was committing crimes," but had been handed a summons out of "respect" for his office.
Sudler asked Aubuchon what bribe that Judge Donahoe had accepted.
"He doesn't need to be paid," she replied, adding (in a convoluted answer) that Donahoe was continuing to rule as he did in various cases "for the protection of himself [and other officials] from criminal investigation" by the Thomas/Aubuchon/Arpaio/Hendershott team.
The eventually dismissed criminal case against Donahoe is just one of the many prongs of the State Bar's case against Thomas et al.
Aubuchon's M.O. has been to insist that she, like Andy Thomas, solely was interested in doing the right thing against the horde of evildoers bent on keeping the Maricopa County Attorney's Office of doing its job of attacking the alleged cancerous corruption inside the county's judicial and executive branches.
Aubuchon seems proud about the failed civil racketeering lawsuit that she composed against said evildoers, and that those looking back on it should look at the totality of the events, not an individual moment or situation.
In fact, she expressed dismay that Andy Thomas eventually authorized its dismissal after several missteps.
We'll save more analysis for later, and colleague Ray Stern (who has been doing a nice job of covering as much of these hearings as time allows) may be jumping back into the fray.
For now, we are reminded of something that another onetime colleague, Sarah Fenske (who just got the editor's gig at our sister paper, LA Weekly) wrote after Andy Thomas turned the RICO lawsuit over to pathetically over-her-head "special assistant" Rachel Alexander:
"Now, it's worth noting that New Times has long enjoyed a laugh at the hapless Aubuchon, a lawyer who's bungled her way through some of Thomas' most misguided prosecutions -- and lost just about every one that we're aware of. (Ajo Al's was charged with dirty dining? Not guilty. ACLU legal director Dan Pochoda charged with trespassing? Not guilty. How about Tom Lovejoy, the cop accused of killing his partner/police dog, Bandit? Again, not guilty.)
"As much as we hate to admit it, though, Aubuchon likely wasn't taken off the RICO suit because her boss suddenly became aware of her general incompetence. No, we suspect it had more to do with a legal brief filed by Jordan Green, the lawyer representing Judge Gary Donahoe.
"Just after filing the RICO lawsuit in federal court, Aubuchon filed a direct criminal complaint against Judge Donahoe on behalf of the County Attorney's Office, alleging that he'd committed bribery by allowing the court tower project to go through. (Never-mind that the complaint didn't even come close to alleging any actual bribery.)
"But, as Donahoe's lawyer pointed out, the county attorney is barred from prosecuting anyone who he's also suing. In the RICO suit, Thomas claims that his office has been victimized by Judge Donahoe and his co-conspirators. According to the laws governing attorneys in Arizona, that means Thomas can't also use his office to prosecute them."
All of that has come up today, and a lot more.
Our sage analysis: Frightening stuff!
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