What is it about Andrew Thomas that causes arbiters to wax poetic? How powerful must his creative aura be that it extends beyond his own case, and lends its suggestive ability to those who encounter cases merely related to his own?

Andrew Thomas

The songs of the former county attorney were melodic enough to lure some of his deputies onto the rocky beach alongside him. But the tuneful prosecutor has planted the poesy plant in those now charged with reviewing the evidence of matters arising from his administration.

I wrote before about Harold Merkow, the man condemned to serve who served as the hearing officer in the Lisa Aubuchon merit commission matter. As he took testimony and reviewed evidence regarding Andrew Thomas’s chief deputy, he weathered a very long and contentious hearing. But when it came time to write his report, he definitely got jiggy with it.

The events of the Thomas matter had driven Merkow to levels of rhetoric typically reserved for battlefield proclamations and Bible-thumping church services.

Now, it’s Judge Bill O’Neil’s turn to put the blush on the rose. Ah, poetic justice!

O’Neil, the state’s Presiding Disciplinary Judge, released a series of orders yesterday pertaining to the disciplinary charges filed against Thomas, Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.

They are all worth reading, but the one in which he deconstructs the respondents’ arguments demanding that electronic media not be permitted to cover their trial—that’s a keeper.

Below is a PDF of the order (as named by the court). Settle in and enjoy some reading.

JudgeO’Neil’sRulingonMedia’sRequestedCameraCoveragefiled5-02-2011

But in case you can’t get to it right away, a few snippets:

“Respondents speculate that the media may frame or prejudge the public through its power of an editorial disguised as reporting. If members of the press choose to wrongly prejudge, however, they will likely one day discover they cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. Biased reporting assures a tree without bloom or fruit and tragically assures a public’s lack of trust in the very institution of a free press. But this judge does not believe that will occur beyond a few.

“… The refusal to report pertinent news and the preclusion of an ability to report pertinent news are thorns of similar thistles.

“Despairing of the few who may be irresponsible cannot be a reason for drawing a shade on these proceedings.

“Few things are more certain to trigger an increase in public distrust than the removal of proceedings from public scrutiny. The best clarification to dark allegations is not more darkness but rather the light of informed reasoning.”

Here comes the light.

Harold Merkow (Photo by Kathryn Stafford, Peoria Times)

If there is any lesson to be learned from today’s news, it is this: More Harold Merkow!

No celebrity, Merkow is the Arizona lawyer who served as the hearing officer in the case of a Deputy Maricopa County Attorney. She had been fired and is in the process of appealing that termination. Arguing her case before the hearing officer was her first step (the decision ultimately will be made by the Merit Commission.)

The attorney in question is Lisa Aubuchon, who was part of the controversy surrounding that office under the leadership of Andrew Thomas. Both of them, along with Rachel Alexander, are the subject of bar complaints.

Today, Hearing Officer Merkow released his 96-page report. In it, he upheld the firing of Aubuchon.

But my chant of “More Merkow” has nothing to do with his conclusions; I leave the determination of their accuracy to others, and to the sands of history.

Lisa Aubuchon

What I enjoyed was Merkow’s prose. This guy (whom I don’t know) has a novelist’s familiarity with the English language. Among my favorite conclusions: “Appellant was a dervish that was unstoppable until reality set in and she was put on administrative leave, after which she was dismissed.”

You can read the complete report yourself here (thanks to KPHO.com).

And to preview things, here are some of today’s tweets from the Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett, who has been covering the interminable merit hearings for weeks. (If you’re not following her on Twitter, you should start ASAP).

  • Merkow: Aubuchon’s duties “were discarded by her in favor of pursing vendettas against public officials who she openly disparaged.”
  • Merkow: Aubuchon was fired “bc she ignored and abandoned fundamental duties that every prosecutor owes to the public …”
  • Merkow: “…or for being David Hendershott’s sock puppet, or for being the self-styled poster child for political retaliation.”
  • Merkow: Aubuchon wasn’t fired “for being Andrew Thomas’s junkyard dog, or for being Joe #Arpaio‘s stalking horse …
  • Merko’s 96-page recommendation to uphold firing of Lisa Aubuchon contains some doozies. Snippets to follow.
  • Check @azcentral throughout the day for updates on #Aubuchon story.
  • The Republic’s Michael Kiefer and I will be following the Aubuchon story today. I filed story from home – have to get ready for work!
  • Merkow: (Aubuchon) abjured her role as a ‘gatekeeper’ for justice — the sentry who stands between the people and the weight of the law.
  • Merkow: Appellant was a dervish that was unstoppable until reality set in and she was put on adm leave, after which she was dismissed.
  • Merkow: The damage to the County Attorney’s Office reputation is recognized most immediately by the vocal excoriation of Sheila Polk.
  • Merkow on Aubuchon: Damage wreaked by her actions is inestimable.
  • Merkow on Aubuchon: The long shadow of appellant’s corruption of the concept of justice has been proven by the evidence in this appeal.
  • Hearing officer recommends to uphold firing of former #Maricopa Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon http://t.co/zzWGQsc via @azcentral