With allies stripped of their legal licenses, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s days of free reign have ended

LatinaLista — Today in Arizona, a state notorious for how their officials treat undocumented immigrants, set a precedent that shocked those who thought they were above the law and shocked those that thought justice didn’t exist in the state.

A state Bar panel decides the fate of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and two of his top assistants, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander. Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O'Neil, left, announces the disbarment of Thomas and Aubuchon and the suspension of Alexander. Panel members attorney Mark Sifferman and the Rev. John Hall, right, listen. (PHOTO BY: Tom Tingle/The Republic)

Three lawyers who were considered by many as the legal hit mob of Sheriff Joe Arpaio were disciplined by a three-member panel appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court. Two lost their licenses to practice law and a third was suspended for six months.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his onetime deputy, Lisa Aubuchon and another deputy, Rachel Alexander, were found guilty of ethical violations and together faced allegations of 33 ethical violations stemming from years of political and legal battles within Maricopa County government.

Charges cover a variety of allegations, including conflict of interest for holding press conferences to denounce the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which was his client, and threatening county officials with litigation; falsely claiming a judge had filed Bar complaints against Thomas, in order to have the judge removed from a case; and seeking indictments against county officials to burden or embarrass them. In one case, the charges allege, Thomas and Aubuchon brought criminal charges against a county supervisor even though they knew that the statute of limitations had already expired on the offenses.

The most serious allegations involve filing criminal charges against a sitting Maricopa County Superior Court judge without probable cause in order to stop a court hearing. Several of the allegations of ethical misconduct revolve around a federal civil racketeering lawsuit claiming that judges and county officials conspired against Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The independent Bar counsel appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court claims that the three prosecutors were incompetent in drafting the racketeering complaint, and that they filed it for purely political reasons against people they had already charged criminally or who they thought had filed earlier Bar complaints against them.

Of course, the three are crying foul and claiming to be the victims of a justice system that has turned on them. Surprisingly, Sheriff Arpaio has been strangely silent since the verdicts have been read.

Or maybe not.

It has long been recognized that Arpaio manipulated, bullied and interpreted the law to fit his own personal political ambitions. Now that part of his team has been brought down in the most severe way possible, it may be that Arpaio finally understands that the law applies to everyone — not just those with a badge.

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