We met Dan McAuliffe at a downtown Phoenix coffee shop about a month after deputies representing the malevolent interests of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andy Thomas arrested the owners of this paper for political reasons.
Toothpick in mouth, Mr. McAuliffe (in the photo) wanted to chat about the crazy goings-on -- especially county law enforcement's attack on our paper and how we all were getting by.
He asked specifically about "the other Irish guy, not [Mike] Lacey," and wondered how that guy had felt about getting yanked out of his Paradise Valley home and driven off in a funky car with Mexican plates.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, we both got a chuckle (his was more of a belly laugh) out of the absurdity of the whole thing.
FYI, that "Irish guy" is Jim Larkin.
It's all good, we told him, though things had been a little topsy-turvy.
Now, it's your organization's turn to do something (specifically about County Attorney Thomas and his highly paid private barrister Dennis Wilenchik), we told him.
We were referring to the State Bar of Arizona, of which McAuliffe was serving as president for a one-year term.
He was circumspect in his response, saying little more than the Bar was taking seriously any and all complaints against Thomas and Wilenchik. (Maybe so, though the two men emerged unscathed at the end of those first complaints.)
McAuliffe was very engaged, and our conversation veered into unexpected and most interesting directions.
He spoke of the dangerously testy memo he had written as a young attorney at the Justice Department during the Nixon years in which he blasted superiors for their stance in what famously became known as the Pentagon Papers case.
McAuliffe also had a few choice words about Andy Thomas.
Both were graduates (Thomas much later) of Harvard Law School, and McAuliffe wondered aloud if any of the school's great professors had made so much as a dent in Thomas' thinking about legal ethics and other basic isses.
We remember his conclusion: "I think this man is very dangerous," to which we told him about our 2004 story on Mr. Thomas which we called Dangerous Mind.
McAuliffe was interested in the journalistic process, and asked us specific questions about how we "get" stories and how we piece them together.
Don't know, we told him, but they always get done on time.
He thought that was a good one.
All in all, it was a very pleasant and informative meeting with a bright, funny, and passionate man who seemed to want the best for the legal community (and the community in general).
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
We were sad to learn of Daniel J. McAuliffe's passing on March 12 at age of 64.
He had contracted multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells, though we're told that he continued to toil as a partner at the Snell and Wilmer law firm until shortly before he died.
A good man.