Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas' Logic "Absurd," Says State Bar Counsel in Final Closing Argument; Disbarment Recommended -- Again -- for Former Prosecutors Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon

Independent lawyers for the State Bar of Arizona again recommend disbarment for former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, referring to his arguments with words like "absurd."

Thomas' former sidekick, Lisa Aubuchon, should also be stripped of her law license, says the 37-page reply (see below) to the former prosecutors' closing argument. The report also recommends that Rachel Alexander, another former deputy county attorney tied to the scandal, should have her license suspended.

This is the last of the three closing arguments, and a decision by the State Bar's disciplinary panel is expected within 30 days.

The independent bar counsel team that includes John Gleason and James Sudler paints a damning picture of the abuse of power. The latest filing ought to dispel any wisp of doubt that Thomas, Aubuchon and Alexander did something wrong.

Part of what's fascinating here are the devious -- yet lame -- lies invented as cover stories. We brought one of them to your attention in our January 17 post about the former prosecutors' closing argument: The blame heaped upon a bit player in this drama, deputy county attorney Barbara Marshall, for allegedly advising Thomas and Aubuchon to file criminal charges against now-retired Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe for hindering an investigation.

On page eight of the new filing, the State Bar lawyers note that it's "misleading to characterize Marshall as counseling Thomas on the Donahoe case." They describe how she was merely in the room when Thomas and his cronies were discussing what to do about Donahoe, who was about to make a ruling Thomas didn't like. She hadn't been briefed on the details of the Donahoe case and, in response to listening to Thomas and the others kvetch about Donahoe, blurted out in jest that they could charge the judge.

Arpaio, in a later meeting with Thomas, Aubuchon and his former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, made the actual decision to charge the judge.

Well, that's according to Hendershott, a proven liar. (But the notion of Arpaio as ringleader makes sense. Last month, a federal judge suggested that Thomas may have tossed independent judgment to the wind in order to do Arpaio's bidding and prosecute a meritless case.)

Marshall, having nothing to do with the Donahoe case, naturally wasn't at that later meeting.

Particularly crushing is the filing's section on the allegation that Thomas and Aubuchon committed perjury.

In fashioning the bogus charges, including bribery, against Donahoe, Thomas and Aubuchon basically forced a sheriff's deputy to commit perjury for them, the document states.

"They knew that no detective or MCAO investigator had investigated Judge Donahoe," it reads. "They knew they had fabricated the charges..." and they knew someone in the sheriff's office would end up signing the probable cause statement against the judge. A deputy did end up signing it, and it's "more than clear and convincing" that Thomas and Aubuchon "aided" in the fiction that the charge was in any way valid.

"At worst," the list of supposed crimes in the probable cause statement attached to the charging document filed against Donahoe on December 9, 2009, alleges that Donahoe was biased. Although Donahoe was charged with obstruction of an investigation, bribery and hindering a prosecution, the probable cause statement doesn't actually allege those crimes, the bar counsel says.

"It is unbelievable that (Aubuchon) truly believes this list of evidence shows any crime," the document states on page 15.

A week before charging Donahoe, Arpaio and Thomas filed a federal racketeering case against their political opponents. It was "not a valid legal complaint, but rather a political statement," the new filing states.

As county observers will recall, the RICO complaint and the charges against Donahoe were miserable failures for Thomas and Arpaio. The lawmen later dumped their poorly written, unwinnable RICO case and Donahoe was completely exonerated after the charges against him were dropped.

Donahoe's now suing the county for $4.75 million in just one of the many lawsuits spurred by the bad decisions of Arpaio and Thomas.

The IBC's reponse to the respondents' closing arguments is below:

Click here for the full-screen version of the document.

Ibc Reply to Closing Args

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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.