Archive for October, 2010

Oct
03

Excerpts from Aubuchon response

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Aubuchon submitted a September 17th response to Ahler wherein she wrote the following:

Kale Baker. an investigator who has zero experience in criminal matters, is second-guessing my charging decisions. Early on in her interviews with me, it became obvious that Ms.Baker. a person who has also accused .  Judge Gary Donahoe of inappropriate conduct and has had her judgment questioned by a federal judge, had not been able to find any factual or ethical wrongdoing. As such, she began targeting the “bad judgment” angle and the very tone of those interviews was negative from there on out. Without the benefit of any real evidence to back it up. Ms. Baker made several statements indicating her belief that my actions were politically motivated rather than based on facts and evidence provided by law enforcement agencies. Desperate to achieve the ICA Romley administration’s goal of finding cause to fire me? Obviously. An expert on judgment? Hardly.

Leonard Ruiz, who is so risk adverse that he would take a case to trial only if it were videotaped and now claims my judgment is so bad it warrants termination. has obviously forgotten about the last evaluation I received from him (also Exceptional). Instead. Leonard has focused on the countless internal battles he has lost since then because he was scared of the targets and the political ramifications of going after them despite the mounting evidence against them. Bitter? Yes. An expert on judgment? Not quite.

Tony Novitsky. who can’t seem to make up his mind whether he wants to be married or not or who he wants to be married to for the months that he does want to be married. is not someone I look to for advice when it comes 10 judgment calls. But there he is, front and center in your investigation and an expert witness on what is good or bad judgment. Indecisive? Yes. An expert on judgment? Hardly.

Without question, judgment is subjective; an opinion. In many instances, there is no absolute right or wrong. However. you have inserted yourself into this process and. in a manner of a few months. have decided that my judgment is bad and now intend to fire me. You can’t find any procedural or ethical violations. but you’re going to fire me anyway because you think I have bad judgment. In and of itself, I think that is bad judgment on your part. Let me remind you that I have never had a no true bill from a grand jury. I have never had a Rule 20 granted at trial and I have never had a case reversed on appeal. Although I have lost some cases, there has never been a finding that there was a lack of sufficient evidence to go to the trier of fact. Not only did the County Attorney approve the decisions to pursue these cases. But experts  such as Bob Barr agreed they were appropriate.

Just because I may be a tougher prosecutor than most doesn’t mean my judgment is bad. Being criticized by people for believing the death penalty is appropriate in 80% of cases where the person has been charged with First Degree murder does not mean I have bad judgment. It reflects only a different philosophy about punishment.

In conclusion, your findings arc unfounded and clearly an attack on the decisions of the prior administration. Especially now that we know ICA Romley’s administration will vacate the office in two months. second guessing the decisions of the prior administration that ICA Romley has openly criticized and worked against and, now in the eleventh hour, focusing your efforts on the discipline of a 20-year career prosecutor with an exemplary record who was complying with the decisions of her supervisors in that prior administration not only reeks of politics, but is totally absurd.

Categories : Criminal Law
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Oct
03

More excerpts from Aubuchon dismissal letter

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Mr. Ahler’s September 8th letter also included the following:

The evidence which has been gathered during the internal investigation makes it clear there was no evidence upon which to charge Judge Donahoe with the crimes of bribery, hindering or obstruction of justice. The motivation for filing the charges on the morning of December 9, 2009 was to prevent a hearing that Judge Donahoe had set for 1 :30 p.m. that afternoon to consider a motion filed by the Board of Supervisors and County Administration requiring that any specially appointed deputy county attorneys attending the grand jury first be authorized to act by the Board.

Between the time the Motion re: Unauthorized Special Deputy County Attorneys was filed by counsel for the Board of Supervisors on November 13,2009 and the filing of the criminal charges on December 9, 2009. the following occurred:

November 13. 2009 – Motion re Unauthorized: Special Deputy County Attorneys

November 26, 2009 – State’s Motion to Strike Motion in Unspecified Criminal

Matter (challenging Motion re: Unauthorized Special Deputy County Attorney).

November 30, 2009·- E-mail from Judge Donahoe’s office setting hearing for

12/9/2009 at 1 :30 p.m.

December 1,2009 – RICO action filed identifying Gary Donahoe as a

“conspirator. ”

December 4, 2009 – You request Donahoe to appoint out-of county judge to hear

motion re: specially appointed deputy county attorneys to attend grand jury.

December 8, 2009 – You prepare direct complaint charging Judge Donahoe with

the crimes of bribery. hindering and obstruction of justice.

December 9, 2009 – Direct criminal complaint filled against Donahoe prior to the

1 :30 p.m. hearing.

December 9, 2009 – Judge Donahoe is served with the criminal complain!.

December 9, 2009 – Judge Donahoe cancels I :30 p.m. hearing.

December 9,2009 – MCAO issues press release essentially acknowledging that

criminal charges were brought for the purpose of preventing the hearing from

taking place. (ABU 00207).

It is obvious that because Judge Donahoe would not recuse himself, send the matter to an out of county judge or continue the hearing, a decision was made to file criminal charges against him. Indeed. during your interview you admitted that was the reason you filed the criminal complaint. A mad rush was made in the afternoon of December 8, 2009 to put together the criminal complaint. (See interview of Martha Trujilllo.) Then, you attempted to get the complaint filed that evening after hours, by requesting a Maricopa County Attorney’s OfJice

investigator swear out the complaint. Del. Tim Cooning. upon receiving the criminal complaint and realizing what was being alleged and about whom, had the good sense to contact his supervisor. Dct. Cooning knew that questions may be asked by the IA judge. Det. Cooning knew nothing about the mailer and correctly concluded that he would be unable to provide truthful and complete answers to questions that might be posed. The probable cause statement (Form 4) that was attached to the direct complaint does not establish probable cause for any of the crimes identified. It is merely a reiteration of the judicial misconduct complaint Chief Hendershott of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office filed against Judge Donahoe.

A seasoned criminal prosecutor, such as you, either knew or should have known that the form 4 did not contain sufficient facts to support probable cause much less meet MCAO standards of “reasonable likelihood of conviction.” The “Supplemental Report” regarding Judge Donahoe was prepared on December 9, 2009, the day after the direct complaint was prepared and does not support  any of the criminal charges asserted. Again, a review of all the material maintained in your office or sent to the Department of Justice has occurred and there is no admissible evidence to support the crimes charged. The Grand Jury reached the same conclusion when it voted to “end the inquiry.” On January 4, 2010 you presented information to the 494 Grand Jury, including matters related to Judge Donahoe. On March 3, 20 10 the Grand Jury voted to “end the inquiry.” The definition or “end the inquiry” means that after the Grand Jury hears the evidence they have determined that there is no probable cause and that additional evidence or witnesses will not make a difference. When the 494 Maricopa Grand Jury was empanel led on December 9, 2009 they were instructed as follows concerning the meaning of end the inquiry: “The case is so bad there’s no further evidence that could be brought to you folks . [The] case is so bad you don’t want to go any more into the case than you just have. There’s no law that you can conceive indicting this person under. That’s what ending inquiry means.”

Equally troubling to me is that you forwarded to Gila County Attorney, Daisy Flores, the “Bug Sweep” investigation involving the MCBOS and some members of the County Administration, one of the matters which the Grand Jury voted to “end the inquiry.” First. it is unclear whether you had the authority to send this matter to Ms. Flores. Secondly, you failed to inform Ms. Flores that the Grand Jury ended the inquiry. In my judgment, this was a dishonest act because you failed to completely and truthfully provide Ms. Flores with all relevant information. Your disingenuous conduct was compounded by the fact that Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had previously reviewed this same matter in June 2009 and had come to the conclusion that there was no crime committed. The fact that Ms. Flores promptly returned the material does not affect your initial wrongful conduct.

Categories : Criminal Law
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Oct
03

Lisa Aubuchon officially terminated from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

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In a September 8, 2010 letter, Chief Deputy Paul Ahler wrote the following:

Your actions contributed to the unseemly spectacle of the largest prosecutorial agency in the State filing a civil lawsuit against judges, public officials and county employees only to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit within a few months after it became painfully obvious to all that it lacked merit. You misused the awesome power of the prosecutors office to bring unsubstantiated criminal charges against a sitting judge solely for the purpose of delaying a hearing. Again, the charges were voluntarilly dismissed a short time later. These two events created such concern among seasoned and experienced prosecutors that Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk felt compelled to speak out forcefully in an opinion letter that was published in the Arizona Republic on December 22, 2009.

***

Her comments, in my view, were directly on point and I believe that your actions were a serious disservice to citizens and this state. Additionally, a number of employees within MCAO commented that the actions taken by you created difficult relations between prosecutors and other judges who were totally uninvolved in the specific events in question. Your actions brought discredit to county service.

Pursuant to Rule 9.03A. Mmicopa County Merit System Rules, this is your NOlice
or the Findings or the Internal Investigation that wus conducted on bchulf of the Maricop<l
Coullty Attorney’s Oflicc and Int ent to Di scipline based on those lindings.
I have carefully reviewed Ihe report authored by Katheri ne E. Baker, along with
th..: supporting documentation which includes your personnel file, interview transcripts, hear ing
transcripts and the materi al wh ich you provided and requested to be considered. I I have taken
into conside ration the filct that YOli are an experienced prosecutor having been employed by the
MeAO since 1996. I have also reviewed transc ripts from grand jury 494 GJ 156, Mr. 130b Barr’s
affidavi ts and the written commentary you provided in response to the release of Grand Jury
l11<.1ter inl s. I have also sought the comments and opinions of the lion. Stt:ven D. Sheldon (rct.).
Although I was not required to consult with <lny independent cxpert. I sought his input to ensure
thm the disc iplinary deci sion J rcached was appropri ate.
Richard M. Romley, Interim Maricopa County Attomey, has delegatcd to me the
authority to determine the di scipline to be imposed. Based on the material I reviewed, as listed
above and provided wi th this lelter. it is my intcnt to lerminme YOli from yo ur position as Deputy
County Atto rne y. I have adopted al! the Findings and Conclusions orMs. Baker’s vcry thorough
invest igation. I have concluded that a si ngle viohltion of Maricopa County Mcrit Rules or
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office policies and procedures under the circumstances described
be low is suffic ient to warnmt term ination. The b~sis for your termination i::; set forth in detail in
the entirety of thl: attached report and spec ili <.~ally at pages 46-126. It is inco rporated herein by
fe fe rence.
Categories : Politics
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