Attorneys representing former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas in disciplinary proceedings have asked a judge to let them withdraw from the case because the county hasn’t paid them for all their services.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved $100,000 for Thomas’ defense in February and management of paying the legal bills was given to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery said at the time his office would pay the bills because that would be consistent with a policy of paying for the defense of attorneys in his office who face Bar complaints.
Donald Wilson, Thomas’ lead attorney, said in a written motion filed today that only a portion of his legal bills have been paid so far. A substantial amount remains unpaid and they have gotten no assurances they will be paid, he wrote.
“Distilled, Mr. Thomas is being denied a defense,” Wilson wrote.
Montgomery spokesman Jerry Cobb said he couldn’t comment because it is a pending legal matter.
Cari Gerchick, a spokeswoman for the Board of Supervisors, said the board is “going to have to look” at the matter before discussing it.
“One hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money for a Bar complaint,” she said.
The State Bar of Arizona began to scrutinize Thomas, who resigned in April 2010 to run for attorney general, when Pima County Superior Court Judge John Leonardo found in early 2010 that he abused his authority while prosecuting Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox on criminal charges.
Thomas and the Bar sparred over the years and, in an effort to avoid a conflict of interest, the Bar asked Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch to appoint an independent investigator to see whether he violated ethical rules.
Berch appointed John Gleason, who heads Colorado’s attorney discipline system, 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. All of the criminal cases and lawsuits brought by Thomas were dismissed.