A "reckless, four-year campaign of corruption and power abuse."
That's how retired Judge Charles E. Jones categorized the evidence against ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his one-time hatchet-woman, former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon, in probable-cause statements filed today that could lead to disbarment for both lawyers.
Jones also slammed the pair's legal rampage as wasteful to the taxpayers and vindictive in the extreme.
"Motivation for much of the alleged impropriety appears retaliatory," noted Jones, "intended to do personal harm to the reputations of Judges, County Supervisors, and other county officials.
"Actions by Respondent appear intent on intimidation, focused on political gain, and appear fully disconnected from professional and prosecutorial standards long associated with the administration of justice, particularly criminal justice."
Deputy County Attorney Rachel Alexander, another of Thomas' erstwhile minions, was slapped around, too, but Aubuchon and Thomas took the most licks. You can read the Thomas doc, here; Aubuchon's, here; and Alexander's, here.
The three probable-cause statements at hand were the result of a report by independent counsel John Gleason, appointed by Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch to investigate the trio of tainted attorneys.
As my colleague Ray Stern noted in a previous blog post, Gleason, who normally works for the Colorado Supreme Court and was brought in to avoid conflicts of interest in the matter, is essentially the "prosecutor" in the pending disciplinary proceedings against Thomas, et al.
His door-stop-sized report certainly reads like an indictment, listing 32 alleged ethical violations, everything from misconduct in the vendettas against county supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley to prosecutorial misconduct, dishonesty, perjury, and conspiracy to violate the civil rights of others.
You can peruse the entire document for yourself, here. I'll have more in my Bird column this week, once I have a chance to pore over it.
During a press conference today at the Arizona Supreme Court, Gleason declined to say if he had discovered evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but some of the ethical violations listed in his report seem to breach the gap.
Specifically, in regard to perjury in their bringing charges against Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, Gleason alleges that Thomas and Aubuchon knew the charges against Donahoe were false, and that they were "criminally accountable" for having a detective swear to a false complaint against Donahoe.
All of which, sounds like bad news for Thomas and Aubuchon. Gleason writes, "The allegations of misconduct committed by Thomas and Aubuchon, if proven, warrant disbarment."
Gleason's report and the probable-cause statements basically get the process started. Gleason stated at the presser that he did not anticipate a hearing on the allegations until July. And the three-judge panel making a decision on discipline will have a range of options, from censure up to and including disbarment.
In other words, the fat lady hasn't wailed yet. Sure, probable-cause statements are issued to lawyers all the time. Just not to ex-County Attorneys.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"As far as I can find, this is the first time it's happened to an elected official," state Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl told me after the media event. "That doesn't mean it hasn't happened somewhere in the distant past."
All three lawyers could settle at some point in the process, but you can anticipate Thomas and Aubuchon will fight like hellcats in a laughable bid to clear their names.
See, in addition to the 32 violations enumerated by Gleason, Judge Jones added another to the Thomas-Aubuchon pile: "Failure to submit substantive responses." Aubuchon and Thomas ain't cooperating with the process, and they're unlikely to ever do so.
Indeed, Aubuchon's lawyers had Gleason tailed at public expense during the investigation. When I asked if such intimidation influenced his findings, he declined comment. But I'm guessing it didn't help Aubuchon's case. Or Thomas' for that matter.