Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas, Former Maricopa County Attorney, Scheduled to Testify This Morning in State Bar Disciplinary Proceeding; Faces Disbarment

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is taking stand this morning in a disciplinary proceeding that could result in his disbarment.

Click here to access the state Supreme Court's Web site, then click on today's live proceeding.

Thomas was elected in 2004 on a platform of illegal immigration reform, then re-elected in 2008. Even before 2004 he was roundly criticized as an ideologue -- he once advocated public stockades for drug dealers in a book about crime in America -- but voters liked his supposedly tough-on-crime stance.

Teaming up with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Thomas used his unique interpretation of the state's human smuggling law to charge hundreds of illegal immigrants with smuggling themselves into the country. Although a court ruled that his theory was legally sound, no other county prosecutor followed his lead.

Seemingly under Arpaio's spell, Thomas helped the sheriff with one of his favorite pastimes: Running criminal investigations on political foes.

Thomas' first screw-up in this game was to help Arpaio go after New Times. That didn't turn out so well.

But using similar tactics, he and his minions -- including Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander, who are also being hauled before the State Bar's disciplinary judge -- targeted County Supervisors, bureaucrats, judges and lawyers for destruction.

With the help of Arpaio and his former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott (whom Arpaio had fired in part due to his role in the scams), Thomas had charged Supervisor Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox, now-retired Judge Gary Donahoe and others with crimes that didn't hold up in court. Evidence appeared to show that Thomas, Aubuchon and Alexander acted recklessly and with bias in the cases.

We'll have updates as his testimony proceeds.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.