Rachel Alexander, acolyte of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, has filed a notice of claim against Maricopa County for $67,000 to cover the legal fees of the appeal of her law-license suspension.
Alexander, along with Thomas and former deputy county attorney Lisa Aubuchon, was disciplined for their bad ethics in a lengthy legal fight with county officials. Thomas and Aubuchon were disbarred, while Alexander had her license suspended for six months and a day.
Though the suspension went into effect yesterday, Alexander is also requesting a stay on that punishment until her appeal process is exhausted.
Aubuchon was granted a temporary stay on her disbarment until May 30, when the state Supreme Court will decide whether to stay the disbarment until Aubuchon's appeal is done.
Thomas, playing martyr, decided not to appeal his disbarment.
A week after the April 10 discipline order against the trio, the county Board of Supervisors decided not to pay for the legal fees for any appeal by Alexander or Aubuchon.
Alexander says in her notice of claim, released today by the county, that she was blind-sided by that decision and that her bankruptcy law firm has suffered as she's tried to handle the legal work for her appeal.
"The vast amount of negative media coverage has also devastated my business," she writes.
Bummer. But Alexander could hardly expect the news media to ignore her role in the discredited RICO suit against county players, the subsequent State Bar investigation, and her high-profile spanking by the Arizona Supreme Court's disciplinary panel.
She writes in the claim that she was led to believe by her former counsel, who was taking cues from County Risk Manager Rocky Armfield, that her appeal would be funded by the county. Relying on that advice, she turned down three separate offers for a settlement in the disciplinary matter, including one that would have required her only to take a few law classes.
We wonder why she didn't take that settlement. Surely, she couldn't have believed the disciplinary panel would let her off the hook for working on the crappy racketeering suit. Or maybe she still high on the punchbowl-full of Thomas' Kool-Aid she drank.
When she filed an amended complaint against the entire Board of Supervisors and others, she wrote: Even a cursory read of the proposed amended complaint will reveal that (the claims) are not frivolous and are brought in good faith to combat widespread corruption."
That was pure nonsense.
We attended the news conference by Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2009 when they introduced the RICO suit, and our non-lawyerly brain noticed right away that it lacked substance. Arpaio and Thomas later dumped it when they realized they had no case.
Alexander's getting a bit of leeway, though, from John Gleason, the State Bar independent counsel who led the investigation into Alexander, Aubuchon and Thomas.
In a response to Alexander's motion for a stay, Gleason writes that he agrees with the notion of a stay of her suspension while she appeals her case, as long as she's monitored by another lawyer.
In other county news today:
Payday for Mary Rose Wilcox
A federal judge decided to allow County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox to get the $975,000 settlement she negotiated with a county mediator.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake undermined an opinion by County Attorney Bill Montgomery that another Supervisor or the County Treasurer needed to sign off on the settlement.
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Wilcox sued the county following her long ordeal battling an unethical investigation into her financial disclosure statements. An 2009 indictment against Wilcox included 36 felony charges for failing to disclose loans she'd taken out from an affiliate of Chicanos por la Causa. The charges were tossed because of Thomas' conflicts of interest in the case.
Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores later concluded that there was an "utter lack of motive or evidence" of crimes in the Wilcox case, and that a reasonable jury would conclude the omissions on her financial disclosure statements were oversights, not deceit. Wilcox didn't get any special deal for the loans, and allegations by Thomas and Arpaio that she'd sold her votes on the Board of Supervisors turned out to be untrue.
On a side note, the Arizona Republic article about the Wilcox settlement today says that a counter-lawsuit against the county by Lisa Aubuchon and Dave Hendershott, Arpaio's former go-to guy, have been "thrown out as baseless."