Maricopa County Craziness

Rachel Alexander Blows Her Appeal of Law-License Suspension With Late Filing

Rachel Alexander, the right-wing blogger and ex-prosecutor under former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, has blown her chance to appeal her law-license suspension by failing to file her opening brief on time.

The former deputy county attorney had her license suspended in April for six months and a day because of ethical lapses in handling a poorly written and later discredited racketeering lawsuit against county officials. Her boss, Thomas, and co-worker Lisa Aubuchon, were disbarred in the high-profile debacle.

Thomas threw in the towel, but Alexander and Aubuchon launched an appeal of the decision by the state Supreme Court's three-member disciplinary panel.

Alexander was supposed to file an opening brief for that appeal on June 6. Instead, near 5 p.m. on that day, she filed a motion requesting extra time to file that brief.

The motion was denied. And that means, according to an order by state Disciplinary Judge William O'Neil, that her whole appeal is "deemed abandoned and ordered dismissed."

In theory, Alexander could file a special action with the Arizona Supreme Court to try to get O'Neil's order overturned. But it would probably be a waste time, considering that the state's high court has shown little interest in granting these scofflaw lawyers any special favors.

Alexander claimed two reasons for the requested delay in her motion for an extension of time. She says she's still trying to get the county to provide her with a lawyer to help with the appeal, and that she "has become very ill with fibromyalgia due to stress from the proceedings."

In O'Neil's reply and order, dated yesterday, the judge says those reasons don't constitute "good cause" for an extension. Alexander "knew long ago" that her taxpayer-funded county lawyer wouldn't be helping her appeal, and she offered no supporting evidence for her reasons, O'Neil wrote.

While O'Neil says he's "sympathetic" to her "physical plight," the statement of illness simply is not sufficient. And it reminds him of other explanations of Alexander's that the panel found "inexplicable" during the disciplinary hearings.

The judge then goes on to rebuke Alexander as if she was a schoolgirl. He notes that at some point she'll likely be applying for the reinstatement of her law license, and that when she does so, she'll be expected to have learned something about the "weaknesses" that caused the suspension in the first place.

The lame excuses she offered for her intended tardiness seem to show Alexander hasn't learned a darned thing from her experience, O'Neil suggests. He says:

Ultimately, dodging the responsibility of one's disobedience serves no long term purpose. Ms. Alexander drew airtight conclusions that were full of legal, factual and ethical holes. For reinstatement, simplistic explanations must be replaced with realistic reflection if the deeper things of ethics are to begin to emerge and eclipse shallow rationalizations.

O'Neil offers her several examples from the hearing transcripts in which Alexander is shown to be responsible for her own actions. For instance, though Alexander is the prosecutor who signed off on the amended racketeering complaint, she admitted under oath that she never saw evidence herself of the bribery, extortion or hindering of prosecution by county officials that her complaint alleged.

In fact, the situation was worse than Alexander simply following orders like a good Nazi to formally accuse county officials including all five members of the Board of Supervisors with serious corruption.

Thomas and his reckless ally, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, had no evidence of such crimes to begin with, so naturally they couldn't show any to Alexander before she filed her complaint. As New Times noted in January of 2010, Alexander's RICO complaint, like the one filed by Aubuchon before her, was "still a piece of crap."

Alexander's latest screw-up, filing a weak, last-minute request for more time, adds another "F" to her professional transcripts.

O'Neil signs off his order by saying it is "sincerely hoped that "Ms. Alexander will reflect and begin to prepare for her reinstatement."

Alexander filed a notice of claim against the county in May, seeking $67,000 to cover her legal expenses.

Alexander had been granted a stay of her suspension while she worked on her appeal. But now, she only has a month to wrap up cases at her bankruptcy law firm: O'Neil is expected to issue an order today or tomorrow that makes her suspension effective on July 23.

In other news, Lisa Aubuchon did manage to file her opening brief on time, unlike Alexander.

For her appeal, Aubuchon drags out the same, tired arguments that got her disbarred. How could she have known the statute of limitations had expired for the counts against Supervisor Don Stapley? How could she have known there was no probable cause to charge now-retired Judge Gary Donahoe with bribery? After all, she argues in the brief, Thomas, Arpaio and former Chief Deputy David Hendershott "all believed" that probable cause existed to charge Donahoe!

Hendershott, of course, is the guy Arpaio previously said he was "duped" by. Arpaio fired him to cover his own butt.

You can read Aubuchon's bleating by clicking here, if you feel so compelled.

UPDATE: Judge O'Neil reverses his order and lets Rachel Alexander continue her appeal.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern