Arizona State Bar Investigations
In 2008, the State Bar of Arizona launched an investigation of Thomas. In response, Thomas filed a Petition for Special Action with the Arizona Supreme Court in an effort to halt the investigation. The Arizona State Bar filed a response noting that "a lawyer who happens to be an elected public officer... cannot simply opt out of the lawyer-regulatory system claiming the privilege of his elected office." Thomas' private attorneys filed a reply on July 2, 2008. . Thomas has also posted a call to reform the Arizona Bar on the Maricopa County Attorney web site. On August 15, 2008, the Arizona Supreme Court denied his Petition for Special Action and ruled that the State Bar could proceed with the ethics investigations against Thomas. The State Bar dismissed those complaints in March, 2009.
In March, 2010, The Arizona Supreme Court, at the request of the State Bar of Arizona, appointed a special investigator to look into accusations of misconduct against Thomas, after a Pima County judge ruled that he acted unethically in investigating county supervisors for political gain.
Thomas has claimed that the state Bar investigation into his ethical conduct is stacked against him and orchestrated to damage his campaign for state attorney general. Officials involved in the investigation have dismissed Thomas' allegations as baseless.
Thomas filed a petition with the Arizona Supreme Court in an attempt to end investigations into his ethical conduct. The court refused to end the investigation.
On August 18, 2010, the attorney appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to investigate Thomas' conduct confirmed that he had been followed by private investigators during his trips to Phoenix to work on the case. Dennis Wilenchik, for whose law firm Thomas worked prior to becoming County Attorney, and who later worked for Thomas as a special prosecutor, confirmed that his firm had hired the private investigators.
On December 6, 2010, the report from the Arizona Supreme Court was released, and with the recommendation that Thomas be disbarred. The report alleges 32 ethics rules violations by Thomas, involving conflicts of interest, dishonesty, misrepresentation, filing a frivolous suit, and filing charges against county officials solely to embarrass or burden them. The report also alleges that Thomas engaged in criminal conduct and "conspired... with others to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate Judge (Gary) Donahoe" by filing a criminal complaint against him.
The investigative report was provided to a judge appointed by the Supreme Court, who made the decision to move forward with disciplinary recommendations against Thomas. The State Bar of Arizona's probable cause orders, signed by Judge Charles E. Jones, state that "Ethical violations by respondent, as described by Independent Bar Counsel, are far-reaching and numerous. Evidence thus far adduced portrays a reckless, four-year campaign of corruption and power abuse by respondent as a public official, undertaken at enormous and mostly wasteful cost to the taxpayers... Motivation for much of the alleged impropriety appears retaliatory, intended to do personal harm to the reputations of judges, county supervisors and other county officials... Actions by respondent appear intent on intimidation, focused on political gain, and appear fully disconnected from professional and prosecutorial standards long associated with the administration of justice ..." Judge Jones added a 33rd ethical violation in the probable cause orders: that Thomas failed to submit substantive responses to the investigator.
Thomas has denied any wrongdoing.
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