John S. Gleason, Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court and independent investigator on certain Arizona lawyer matters, at the Arizona Supreme Court, Dec. 6, 2010

This afternoon came the announcement that 33 allegations of ethical violations have been filed against prominent bar members. Most noteworthy is Andrew Thomas, the former Maricopa County Attorney who waged legal battles against many in county government and on the bench.

Also named in Probable Cause orders were two of his senior deputies, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.

At a 2:00 press conference just ended, independent ethics investigator John Gleason spoke about his 76-page report as well as the orders themselves. As the Probable Cause Order for Thomas reads, “Ethical violations by Respondent … are far-reaching and numerous. Evidence thus far adduced portrays a reckless, four-year campaign of corruption and power abuse by Respondent as a public official, undertaken at enormous and mostly wasteful cost to the taxpayers.”

Arizona Supreme Court spokesperson Jennifer Liewer, Colorado Chief Deputy Regulation Counsel James Sudler, and John Gleason

His report indicates, “Pursuant to the American Bar Association Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, the allegations of misconduct committed by Thomas and Aubuchon, if proven, warrant disbarment.”

Gleason said that he expected to file the formal charges, largely based on his report, in January. (January being the month when the new discipline process, based primarily on the Colorado process, goes into effect.) He added that by early or mid-July, a hearing with new Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O’Neil, along with a panel, will consider the charges.

More records from the cases soon will be scanned and made available, according to the Supreme Court.

A few other items learned in the press conference:

  • Gleason mentioned that his report originally submitted to the Probable Cause Panelist—former Arizona Chief Justice Charles Jones—included 32 allegations. It was Justice Jones who insisted that an additional allegation be levied against all three lawyers: violations of Rules 53(d) and (f)(1), Ariz.R.S.Ct., “which are predicated on Respondent’s failure or refusal to cooperate or respond substantively to Bar Counsel’s requests.”
  • In response to a question, State Bar of Arizona spokesman Rick DeBruhl said that no one they had spoken with could recall a time in Arizona history when a sitting or former county attorney had had such charges levied against him or her.
  • John Gleason noted that throughout his long investigation, he had never met any of the three lawyers named in the allegations (though he did offer them the opportunity to be interviewed).

We will have more on this story as it progresses.