PHOENIX - Arizona officials are sounding off following a court ruling Tuesday that stripped Maricopa County's former top prosecutor of his legal license .
The ethics panel found that ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas had violated the rules of conduct for lawyers in bringing criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009 with the purpose of embarrassing them.
The panel ruled that Thomas and one of his assistant prosecutors broke criminal intimidation and perjury laws in knowingly bringing false bribery charges against then-Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe.
The decision marked the first official comment by the state's legal establishment on the validity of the investigations and supported lawyers who said Thomas and Arpaio wrongly went after judges, attorneys and government officials who crossed them, using criminal investigations as a weapon.
Targets of the probes, including County Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox, have said the charges were trumped up.
Now, those officials are speaking out, issuing the below statements about Tuesday's ruling.
Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley
I listened to Judge O'Neil's public statement from the bench this morning. I was flooded with feelings. The strongest among them came when Judge O'Neil found, ". . . by clear and convincing evidence, that Mr. Thomas and Ms. Aubuchon acted with no substantial purpose other than to embarrass and burden Don Stapley."
Three years ago, I was indicted for all the wrong reasons. The burden imposed on me, on my sweet wife Kathy and on our children is almost impossible to describe. I listened with mixed feelings when O'Neil said "Andrew Thomas is hereby disbarred for his conduct."
Part of our burden is lifted with the disbarment order. Sadly, the burden will never be fully assuaged.
I have had personally confirmed that "a prosecutor's power is a dangerous power." The new County Court Tower has a significant phrase engraved on its face. It says "The First Order of Society is Justice." The court today has served justice.
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox
Justice has finally been served for Maricopa County... We had to live for three years with just hell at Maricopa County but we survived it, we persevered, kept our heads high and said justice will prevail.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Today's decision no doubt is a disappointment to Andrew Thomas, his family and his colleagues. He was a hard working professional who served the people of this county for many years.
As there are several lawsuits involving some of the same parties and issues involved in today's decision, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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