State Bar of Arizona Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella interviewed by KPHO reporter Dave Cherry

State Bar of Arizona Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella interviewed by KPHO reporter Dave Cherry

If you’re a lawyer, you may not make it a habit to hire other lawyers (but who knows?). However, a recent news story sheds light on the topic. I found it fascinating, and I encourage you to share it with anyone who’s engaged in an attorney search.

In the story, titled “Research lawyers just like you would contractors,” reporter KPHO Dave Cherry interviews Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella. She discusses the importance of checking for a lawyer’s discipline history before you retain someone.

So far so good.

But then she relates a story about a lawyer who got into discipline trouble after a client had already retained him. How many of us think about checking whether our attorney is still admitted to practice after he has already done work for us?

Not often, I’m sure. But I can see how it could be vital.

Go here to see the whole video.

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

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 via @azcentral

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