Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon Slapped by Ninth Circuit; No Immunity in Stapley Suit

Image: Ray Stern
Sheriff Arpaio and his buddy Andrew Thomas
Maricopa County's most famous disbarred lawyers, Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon, were slapped down by the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals today in a bid for immunity from a lawsuit.

The ruling allows former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley to proceed with his lawsuit against the former County Attorney, his sidekick, and the county in general.

But the best parts of the ruling are what the Ninth's judges said about Thomas' unethical efforts to stick it to his political enemies.

See also:
- Andrew Thomas Finds Forum for Screeds at Right-Wing Selous Foundation

Today's ruling is the latest in what seems like never-ending fallout from Thomas' corrupt reign as Maricopa County Attorney. Aubuchon's still appealing her disbarment and a six-figure court sanction. Mary Rose Wilcox is still fighting for her $975,000 settlement. Andrew Thomas is running for governor.

And, of course, Don Stapley's still suing for his piece of the taxpayer-funded pie.

Stapley, a Republican County Supervisor representing the Mesa area for 15 years, was reamed more than any of the enemies of Thomas and his accomplice, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. That's partially his fault, considering his failure to disclose certain financial matters and other suspicious acts. But Arpaio, Thomas, Aubuchon, and others subverted ethical legal procedures in their zeal to nail Stapley and other officials, investigations found. Stapley chose last year to end his political career, but he's still seeking $15 million in retribution for the trumped-up criminal charges against him that later were dropped.

stapley don 2.jpg
Don Stapley

As part of their defense in the federal lawsuit, Thomas and Aubuchon, the deputy county attorney who bent rules to go after Stapley and others, argued that they enjoyed absolute immunity in bringing legal actions against Stapley because they were government prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Neil Wake rejected that theory, which kicked the argument up to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appellate judges viewed Thomas' claims of immunity dimly, noting that he had no special status above any private citizen in filing a bogus federal racketeering lawsuit against Stapley and other county defendants in 2009.

"The suit was essentially a harassing public-relations ploy," the appeals court judges wrote. "Defendants filed baseless criminal suits against Stapley and others both
before and after filing the RICO suit, seeking media publicity for their actions in connection with these suits."

Interestingly, the court notes that it had recently rejected another immunity claim by one of Thomas' former special prosecutors -- in the pending lawsuit filed against him and Sheriff Joe Arpaio by New Times.

In that case, Thomas and Arpaio joined forces to attack New Times under a constitutionally suspect Arizona law that makes it illegal to publish the home address of a law enforcement officer on the web. With local lawyer Dennis Wilenchik acting as special prosecutor, grand-jury subpoenas -- later proved to be invalid -- were leveled against New Times, and company executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested after they published details of the subpoenas. Lacey was jailed for several hours before Thomas apologized publicly in a news conference.

While Thomas was granted absolute immunity in that case, Wilenchik wasn't, and New Times ' lawsuit is continuing against Wilenchik and Arpaio.

Between the Ninth Circuit court's 2011 ruling in the Lacey case and today's ruling on Thomas and Aubuchon, bad prosecutors and other law officers should take note:

You're not as unaccountable as you may think you are.

Click here to read the Ninth's opinion on Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon.

My Voice Nation Help
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Karyl Krug from Facebook 

"I think he wants a show-down with the Feds. He's gonna roll out his tank; the President will be forced to send in the troops; and racists everywhere will keep filling his coffers, while Maricopa County pays off all those civil judgments amounting to tens of millions of dollars. He's like a one-man Birmingham. On the other hand, PNT is obsessed with this greasy racist to the exclusion of all other stories. Maricopa County allowed a non-lawyer to play lawyer in death penalty cases during the Andrew Thomas death penalty case filing glut, and the AZ Supreme Court covered it up when I reported the grant fraud. Taxpayers have been paying a non-attorney an attorney salary for years. Small potatoes, I guess, compared to Joe; but these were death penalty cases. Hello, PNT?" 

Ray, You need to dig into this...

Flyer9753 topcommenter

Sucks to be you Thomas

Who needs soap operas on tv, just watch AZ Politics.... jeesh...

MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

This is the best news I've heard all day.

Thomas and Aubuchon should be lucky that I didn't turn over a copy of that letter I wrote to the feds to Stapley. Hoo boy would his attorney be having a field day with the county.

Sucks to be you Candy. BTW, I hear Harvard Law School is adding to its curriculum your ethics trial. (Haven't confirmed this yet. As of now just a rumor.)


ExpertShot topcommenter

This is what White Privilege looks like folks.  That's why these bigots are fighting so hard to scapegoat brown and black people - to keep that ability to call upon their "buddies" to get them off the hook.  When setting up relationships like between Thomas and Arpayaso, there is a lot of back-slapping and bonding - the bigots among us don't want to have to ask people that look different than them and may have different cultures because they might get rejected.  Monty: "Hey, Salvador, could we work together for a little quid pro quo?"  Salvador "Fuck off pinche pendejo." 

Just wouldn't work - so, we have a group of powerful white guys trying to hold onto their power by convincing other white guys that they should be immune from the normal consequences of irresponsible and juvenile behavior - JAIL. 

Arpayaso should be in prison right now for all the unjust crap he has pulled on people over the years - including busting small time drug users and screwing their lives up forever.  Now that we know that marijuana is a legitimate herb with medicinal and valid entertainment uses, those people who are in prison now on small time pot charges should be released immediately. 

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Lisa Aubuchon Wanted "Hundreds" of Teens Interviewed During Dale Fushek Case, Probe Transcript Reveals  By Ray Stern Fri., Oct. 15 2010 at 5:49 PMCategories: County Craziness

Lisa Aubuchon​"Of the all the cockamamie things we've heard Lisa Aubuchondid while at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, this has to be the weirdest.

And yet, it seems so -- Lisa.

Five years ago, the story goes, while building the case against the disgraced, defrocked priest, Dale Fushek, Aubuchon wanted to use grand jury subpoena powers to bring in "thousands" of teenagers as a way to collect more evidence.

Mark Stribling, the investigations commander at the office who has 30 years' experience as a Phoenix cop and special investigator, revealed Aubuchon's strange suggestion in April during the office's internal probe that led to the deputy county attorney's firing last month.

Aubuchon is under investigation by the State Bar and U.S. Justice Department for possible abuse of power: She was the would-be dragon-slayer for former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, taking on his politically charged cases -- and getting scorched in failure.

The transcripts from the internal investigation about Aubuchon provide a fascinating and comprehensive look at the behind-the-scenes dealings by key players in the county saga. More to come later on what's in that treasure chest."


Classically Liberal: Prosecutor tries to force teenage boy to register as sex offender for showing Playboy magazine to a friend.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2007"Prosecutor tries to force teenage boy to register as sex offender for showing Playboy magazine to a friend.ABC News tells the horrifying story of the legal assaulton the life of 16-year-old Matthew Bandy.

He is described as a pretty typical 16-year-old who never got into trouble -- well maybe not so typical after all. Maybe above average.

Police burst into the Bandy home accusing the boy of possessing child pornography. If found guilty he could have been sentenced to prison for life! Each image in one’s possession could lead to 10 years in prison consecutively. In most Western countries owning 10 images are considered one offense but in the U.S. it is 10 separate crimes.

Matthew’s mother, Jeannie, says when the police first attacked the house she thought “someone’s trying to break in our house. And then there were police officers with guns pointed at me, telling me to get downstairs.” This is exactly how innocent people, and not so innocent cops, get killed."

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Andrew Thomas and  Lisa Aubuchon belong in prison for decades for the harm and destruction they have done to people, families and the state of Arizona, under the color of law. This behavior should be criminalized. The true criminals are on the outside, as we can all see.

The hundreds of thousands, Thomas and Aubuchon sent to prison, were sent there for a far less crime.  Example: a non-violent, first offender sentenced to 75 years -- a defacto life sentence.  

Time to end Arizona's draconian mandatory minimum sentencing that was the weapon that Thomas / Aubuchon used for "easy" convictions, which Montgomery is using as well. Time to take away the control of the courtroom by the prosecutors and give discretion back to the judges who are supposed to be "fair and balanced". Prosecutors have abused their power far too long in Arizona. This must be stopped.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

no immunity for Aubuchon and Thomas? well now we know who Arpaio will be using the name of in every testimony. it will all be a re-hash of all his prior testimonies, all he is going to do is repeat the same exact lines but replace the name Henderschott with Aubuchon or Thomas.  "i left the day to day stuff to, i meant Aubuchon...."  "I had no idea what, i meant Thomas, was up to"

Zhani Doko
Zhani Doko

I disagree with your chararacterization of Adam Henriksen of the Arizona Tenth Amentment center as a right winger. I personally know Adam and he is ideologically libertarian and the Tenth Amentment Center is about as libertarian an organization as it gets. Adam is anti-war, pro-marijuana, pro same sex marriage, and Atheist. Andrew Thomas is a total shithead.


Excellent article.  The wheels of justice spin slowly but they do spin.  I don't think Andrew Thomas could be elected dog catcher except perhaps in Mesa or Show Low but I'm sure we could all point to stranger things that have happened in Arizona politics.

WhoKnows topcommenter

What's really funny is that Aubuchon has that 6 figure sanction she's got to pay, when she had to beg on her blog for enough money to take her cat to a vet.  Couldn't happen to a more deserving puppet!  Hope this one results in a HUGH fine for the blogger known as the!

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Mr. Stern, Great journalism -- informing the public -- who have been ignored in the Thomas / Aubuchon reign of terror on the county and the state.

Disbarred ex-MCAO Andrew Thomas / ex-DCA Lisa Aubuchon: NO immunity ruled the Ninth Circuit!

C. Disbarment of Thomas and Aubuchon

"A disciplinary panel of the Arizona State Bar investigated Thomas and Aubuchon related to the above incidents. The panel found “overwhelming” evidence that Defendants had abused their power and “spen[t] the public’s money for their cause célèbre.” Noting that the “harm” done by Thomas and Aubuchon “to the public, individuals, and the profession was stunning on every front,” the panel ordered them disbarred. Aubuchon has appealed the ruling." 

MCAO Montgomery, where is the  outside independent investigation of the over 200,000 FELONY CASES under Thomas / Aubuchon (one term in office)?


Monty, Joe, and Horne(y), Are you listening?

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

"...Maricopa County allowed a non-lawyer to play lawyer in death penalty cases during the Andrew Thomas death penalty case filing glut, and the AZ Supreme Court covered it up when I reported the grant fraud. Taxpayers have been paying a non-attorney an attorney salary for years. Small potatoes, I guess, compared to Joe; but these were death penalty cases. Hello, PNT?"

The public needs to know about this, since this disbarred attorney plans to run for Governor??? Over 200,000 FELONY CASES in one term in office -- abuse of power?

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@ExpertShot  Read this history ....

August 31, 2013Wilder on Ebony and Ivy

MIT history professor Craig Wilder's Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities will be appearing from Bloomsbury on September 17.  Cribbing now from the Press' website:

A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery—setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country. But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.

Many of America’s revered colleges and universities—from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC—were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. The earliest academies proclaimed their mission to Christianize the savages of North America, and played a key role in white conquest. Later, the slave economy and higher education grew up together, each nurturing the other. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.

Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.

I heard Wilder present part of this book a few years back and it was terrific and new.  Constitution Day 2013 is shaping up to be a very exciting day!

Update: I now see that has a preview up already.  The beautifully written introduction begins with Henry Watson, Jr., who came to Greensboro Alabama from Connecticut as a tutor in 1830, where he trucked with Reverend Thomas Witherspoon -- then returned a few years later as a lawyer.  Witherspoon -- who's remotely related to Reese Witherspoon -- freed several dozen slaves when he passed away.  Watson made a fortune as a lawyer and businessman in Greensboro.  Stephen Davis and I talk about both of those men in our article on probate in Greene County.  Can't wait to read the whole book!"

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Draconian mandatory minimum sentencing = $$$'s for private prison corporations who  have experienced obscene profits, ALEC, prison profiteers = Arizona "police / prison" state.

This is NOT about public safety -- it is ALL about power, "control" and $$$'s. Wake up folks, you are ALL impacted.

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@WhoKnows  I think you mean disgraced and sanctioned ex-DCA Rachel Alexander... Thomas "internet blogging" queen in 2007 -- search the Matt Bandy story.


@truthseekerazNot gonna happen. Monty is just Thomas with better hair and a little less crazy. He's just as conservative as Candy Andy was but he's not as mentally unstable (seriously, I would not be surprised in the least if Thomas goes the JT Ready route someday. Hopefully someone's watching him.) Or maybe that West Point discipline just keeps Monty's crazy at bay.

And Horney Boi's not about to step in either, seeing as how he's got a closet full of his own unethical/illegal skeletons (either that or he's too busy banging Carmen or some other chippy.) 

WhoKnows topcommenter

@truthseekeraz Let's not forget that Arpaio was found involved in the same CRIMES, but as he's not a member of the bar, the State Bar could take no actions against him.

And of course his lap dog Montypoodle didn't do anything, and HornieBoi was too busy giving it to his mistress to be bothered

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@dkessler4   Narcissists, never see themselves. As MCAO Montgomery with his chief deputy, Mark Faull (Thomas's lobbyist and chief deputy) continue Thomas/Aubuchon's SOP. Truly sick.

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@getmeouttahere @truthseekeraz  Your well informed comment is spot-on.  Montgomery should have learned from Thomas but instead was put in place by his puppeteers.  They have all politicized the justice system which renders it non-functioning for the people. All about power and control and $$$'s for the few. Time for TERM LIMITS FOR COUNTY ATTORNEYS AND SHERIFFS.


@WhoKnows @truthseekeraz Why am I not surprised that in Arizona any elected Republican can do no wrong.  I've never seen people dive under tables so quickly as when the Fiesta Bowl bribes were first reported.  How convenient for our state attorney general to screw that prosecution up; certainly his buddies could do no wrong.  These folks really do believe that they are above all laws.

ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@dkessler4 @truthseekeraz  Montgomery had a chance to show some integrity and search through the 200,000 FELONY CASES for the innocent and wrongfully convicted, the over-sentenced, the over-charged, the malicious prosecution, etc.  Montgomery has turned a blind eye instead. The "ordinary" people have been ignored along with the untold damage the MCAO has done to the people, their families and the state of Arizona which will last for decades.

Prosecutors grow felonies. Felonies grow prison population. Arizona does NOT need new prisons, yet tens of millions of dollars have been given to the private prison profiteers who have bought off the Arizona elected officials and legislators. Shameful. 

Montgomery is not going to stop their gravy train. This is NOT about fair justice for the people but about "controlling" the people, power and money. 

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