You may remember the name Rachel Alexander, a former "special assistant"
deputy county attorney under Andrew Peyton Thomas, her kindred ideological spirit
Alexander now finds her law license in serious jeopardy with the State Bar of Arizona, which recently filed a complaint against her, Thomas, and that
of a prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon.
To sum up, the Bar is alleging that Alexander did some seriously unethical and incompetent things while working directly for Thomas.
So what gives about Alexander's recent gig as an "instructor" at a seminar in Scottsdale entitled "Social Media CLE For Lawyers?"
"CLE" stands for Continuing Legal Education. Arizona attorneys are supposed to take 15 hours annually of classes, seminars, including at least three hours studying "professional responsibility, which includes instruction in legal and judicial ethics, professionalism, and malpractice prevention."
Smallish print in the brochure for Alexander's February 24 seminar pointed out that it "qualifies for two hours of Continuing Legal Education...Ethics Credits with the Arizona State Bar."
From what we saw of Alexander's work for Thomas/Aubuchon in their ill-fated federal RICO lawsuit against a slew of county politicians and judges, the words ethical and Rachel Alexander shouldn't be used in the same sentence unless there's an "un" attached to it.
Until she became enmeshed in that misguided RICO case, Alexander mainly was known around the County Attorney's Office for being a pal of Thomas' and for what she didn't do --which was actual County Attorney's Office work.
Instead, this well-compensated government employee apparently spent hours on end working on "Intellectual Conservative," the predictably right-wing screed of a Web site she runs with her brother,
The RICO case quickly went away in spring 2010, soon followed by Alexander, who quit the County Attorney's Office about the same time as did Thomas (he ran for Arizona Attorney General, and lost by a whisker to eventual winner Tom Horne in the Republican primary).
Last month, the State Bar charged Thomas, ex-deputy attorney Aubuchon, and Alexander with myriad ethics violations in their relentless and unsubstantiated legal attacks against Maricopa County's judiciary and legislative branches.
Among the kinder things that independent State Bar counsel John S. Gleason wrote in an 82-page complaint:
"Thomas, Aubuchon, and Alexander each failed to provide competent representation in the RICO action...There were no facts that supported the RICO complaint. Alexander's attempts to prolong and continue the case were based on incompetent reasoning."
We spoke with State Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl about Alexander's CLE ethics-credit seminar -- $100 per person at the Scottsdale Chaparral Suites.
"Is it ironic? Oh, yeah," DeBruhl told us.
He noted that the Bar does not pre-certify CLE classes, which means Alexander and seminar sponsor RIghtNowSocialMedia.com shouldn't have guaranteed Ethics credits ahead of time.
"Many people who should know better just don't realize that this State Bar audits these seminars after the fact to make sure they were adequate," he said. "The Bar reserves the right to say that a seminar doesn't qualify for CLE credit for whatever reason, Rachel Alexander is not the first person not to have known that."
Interestingly, DeBruhl said the Bar has no requirements on who may or may not teach a CLE class -- a disbarred lawyer telling war stories about what not to do, or what have you, may fit the bill.
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As for social networking and the legal profession, DeBruhl called it a hot topic, and mentioned a fairly recent opinion rendered by the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
The question was, is it okay for a judge to add as Facebook "friends" lawyers who may appear in his or her court, and vice-versa.
Their answer: No.
That issue is unlikely to arise between Rachel Alexander and Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe -- one of the prime targets of the Thomas/Aubuchon/Alexander triad.