A judge on April 14 struck down motions by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to dismiss an attorney discipline cases against him.
Judge William O’Neil, presiding disciplinary judge for the Arizona Supreme Court, also took under advisement motions filed by Thomas to ban video and photographic coverage of the proceedings.
Thomas did not show for the proceeding, but his lawyer, Brian Holohan, asked O’Neil to dismiss the case on the basis that Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch didn’t have the authority to independently allow the prosecutor, John Gleason, who is in charge of Colorado’s attorney discipline agency, to practice law in Arizona.
Holohan said that while Berch has authority to act independently in administrative matters, she was acting as a “Supreme Court of one” in appointing Gleason by suspending bar admission rules adopted by the whole court.
O’Neil, in denying Holohan’s motion, said lawyer regulation is an administrative act.
Thomas, who resigned April 6, 2010, to run for Arizona attorney general, came under the scrutiny of the State Bar of Arizona when Pima County Superior Court Judge John Leonardo found that he abused his authority while prosecuting Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox on criminal charges.
The State Bar had sparred with Thomas over the years and, in an effort to avoid a conflict of interest, asked Berch to appoint an independent investigator to see whether he violated ethical rules.
Berch appointed Gleason in March 2010 and he submitted his case for probable cause in November.
Former Arizona Supreme Court justice Charles Jones, who was also appointed by Berch, found that Gleason had established probable cause for 32 counts of alleged ethical violations against Thomas and his former deputies Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.
Gleason filed a complaint in January alleging the trio abused their prosecutorial powers by retaliating against and intimidating Thomas’ enemies to further the county attorney’s political self-interest.
All of the allegations of ethical violations stem from the series of disputes, criminal prosecutions and lawsuits that Thomas brought against his political rivals — and judges who ruled against him in various cases — during a four-year period while he was in charge of the County Attorney’s Office. All of the criminal cases and lawsuits brought by Thomas were dismissed.
O’Neil also denied motions by Aubuchon and Alexander to re-start the case under new disciplinary rules that took effect on Jan. 1.
Thomas and Aubuchon face potential disbarment while Alexander is facing only a handful of counts.
O’Neil said he hopes Gleason, who did not attend the proceedings April 14, will work out a settlement with Alexander since her case is so much smaller. Jamie Sudler, who works for Gleason, substituted for him.
O’Neil did not set a date for the disciplinary hearing, which could take more than a month, but he allowed the attorneys to set a series of conferences during the next six months to keep him apprised of the status of the case preparation.