Feathered Bastard

Tom Horne's Pal Carmen Chenal's Bar File Partially Sealed by Judge

It's been a while since I first wrote about Attorney General Tom Horne's close friend Carmen Chenal's problems with the State Bar of Arizona and her being hired by the Arizona Attorney General's Office as an attorney in the criminal division, at a salary of $108,000.

Chenal is one of many cronies Horne brought with him from the Department of Education, where he was Superintendent from 2003 to 2011. 

Horne hired Chenal as a program specialist in special education at DOE, though apparently she was not qualified for the position. Similarly, Chenal, whose work has mostly been in the field of construction and real-estate law, followed Horne to the AG's office in 2011, where she ended up scoring a plum assignment.

Despite her having zero experience in criminal law, her being suspended in 2005 by the bar, and the fact that she had not practiced for several years, Chenal was appointed an Assistant Attorney General, responsible for for foreign prosecutions as well as investigating and prosecuting complex fraud cases.

The bar reinstated her in April of 2011, though she was ordered to complete two years of probation and counseling, as well as continue receiving psychiatric care for mental problems that supposedly led to the misdeeds that got her suspended.

While researching my initial column on Chenal, I reviewed boxes of documents on file with the state bar, and read the transcript of her reinstatement hearing. If memory serves me correctly, portions of that transcript had already been redacted, but now Chenal wants larger portions of the record off limits to the public, and her request has been granted, in part.

On February 22, William O'Neil, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court, agreed with Chenal that some of the exhibits in her file should be sealed in their entirety and others should be redacted. O'Neil found that the public's right to know was outweighed by Chenal's privacy and confidentiality rights. He gave Chenal and her lawyer till the middle of this week to finalize the items to be restricted.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons