We know it's very bad karma to laugh at people in over their heads, but when it comes to Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon, we just can't help ourselves.
We have nothing against Aubuchon personally; it's just that County Attorney Andrew Thomas appointed her to run his pre-trial division -- and has a habit of assigning her to try his highest-profile cases. Too bad she just keeps losing them.
Witness her disastrous attempt to prosecute the owners of Ajo Al's restaurant for dirty dining. And her failed effort at trying ACLU Legal Director Dan Pochoda for trespassing. And, of course, the case she brought, and lost, against Chandler Police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, who was accused of recklessly killing his canine partner. With that kind of record in the courtroom, we can only imagine how delighted Don Stapley (pictured) was to realize that Aubuchon is the lead prosecutor on his case!
And, true to form, Aubuchon's attempt to get the Stapley prosecution going has been a comedy of errors (at least by the low threshhold of humor that we court reporters require).
After Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell assigned the case to retired Judge Kenneth Fields, the County Attorney's office began fighting like mad to get Fields kicked off the case, claiming he was biased against them.
But Aubuchon's attempts to remove Fields have been clumsy, at best.
Among other things, Aubuchon attempted to "interview" Presiding Judge Mundell about why she assigned the case to Fields -- a request that drew a sharp response from the judge. "In the almost 20 years that I have been on the Superior Court bench, and the 26 years I have been a member of the Bar, I have never seen such an unusual request," Mundell wrote, icily. "First, lawyers write motions in pending cases; they do not write letters that are not part of the public file of the case ..."
Last Friday, Aubuchon made another silly mistake. And yes, it was extremely petty, but we couldn't help laughing.
Aubuchon is now attempting to get Presiding Criminal Judge Anna Baca to declare that Judge Fields is biased. Like many lawyers, she knew she'd need more than the court's usual 10-page limit. All well and good. So Aubuchon filed the most routine of motions, a request to be allowed to exceed the page limit.
The problem is, she made the request to Judge Fields -- not Judge Baca.
The County Attorney's office must have realized its mistake pretty quickly. Five hours after Aubuchon filed the motion with the wrong judge, court records show that one of the Thomas' top top aides filed a corrected motion, noting correctly that the motion should have been filed with Baca all along.
But here's the part that was really funny. Perhaps it was super dead at the County Attorney's office at 4 p.m. the day after New Year's. Or perhaps this was a special matter that required the office's top strategic braintrust.
For whatever reason, the deputy county attorney who filed the corrected motion Friday was none other than Barnett Lotstein.
Lotstein is himself a lawyer, but he seems to work these days mainly as a flack. He served as the mouthpiece for Rick Romley, and survived Romley's retirement to hold a similiar job for Thomas. So it's nice to see Lotstein can still craft a legal brief when necessary. With Aubuchon floundering yet again, his skills may come in handy. -- Sarah Fenske