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.

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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. 

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!


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


@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


@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.

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