The Arizona Supreme Court disbarred former Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon Tuesday for her role in a series of lawsuits and criminal cases brought against judges and county officials by her former boss, Andrew Thomas.
The unanimous court wrote in an opinion that Aubuchon unquestionably violated ethical rules for lawyers and “failed to fulfill her responsibilities as a prosecutor, abused the public trust, and misused the justice system.”
The court also slammed her for sloppy work in her appeal of a three-judge panel’s recommendation to disbar her. The court said she violated rules of the court by failing to develop arguments and properly support them, and she improperly asked the court to thoroughly review the record and cited to lengthy documents without specificity.
“As we have emphasized: ‘We are not required to look for the proverbial ‘needle in the haystack’. We must insist that a bona fide and reasonably intelligent effort to comply with the rules be manifest,” the court wrote.
Thomas, who was Maricopa County Attorney from 2004 until his resignation in 2010 to run for Attorney General, and Aubuchon accused judges, politicians, county managers and private attorneys of corruption and conspiracy in a series of criminal cases and in a civil racketeering suit, or RICO suit. Former deputy county attorney Rachel Alexander was sanctioned for her part in litigating the RICO suit with a six-month suspension.
A three-judge panel that presided over the discipline case found in April 2012 that Thomas and Aubuchon deserved disbarment because they knowingly used their authority to retaliate against the political enemies of Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The Supreme Court found that Aubuchon’s most serious misconduct was filing criminal charges against Judge Gary Donahoe of Maricopa County Superior Court and “engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
“Although the panel properly found that Aubuchon also violated several other (ethical rules), we consider those particular violations the most egregious in light of the public trust placed in prosecutors to wield their considerable power fairly and for the public good,” the court wrote.
Deputy County Attorney Peter Spaw was also disciplined for his part in the RICO suit based on his testimony at the 2011 disciplinary hearing for Thomas, Aubuchon’s and Alexander.
Spaw was placed on two years’ probation for overseeing the suit and letting it proceed despite knowing it was frivolous.