Attorney and former Superior Court Presiding Judge Colin Campbell discusses the ethics hearing for former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas
Jose Cardenas: Joining me is supervisor Wilcox's attorney, Former Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell. Welcome back. We've talked about these charges before, when they were pending. They've been dismissed now, and we're at the evidentiary hearings. Before we -- the disciplinary hearings. Before we talk more specifically about that, I want to pick up on a point that we discussed with your client, Supervisor Wilcox. That is, the impact of an indictment. And the suggestion at least in some quarters, supporters of Thomas and Arpaio that not that big of a deal.
Colin Campbell: You know, I can't think of anything that would be more disruptive of someone's life than being indicted. The idea that you could lose your liberty, that you could be sent to prison or to jail, the idea that your fellow members of the community, their whole view of you has now changed. Regardless of the presumption of innocence, most people will say, did this person do something? It's the most disruptive thing that can happen.
Jose Cardenas: You've seen evidence on some of the news shows where people are assuming if there's smoke there's fire, so something must have happened.
Colin Campbell: Absolutely. The damage to reputation is incredible. And I was watching one of the journalist's round tables where they were talking about these proceedings and no one would say that Mary Rose was innocent. The idea was, well, if there's smoke there must be fire somewhere, but maybe Thomas went too far. I think it still affects her in terms of her reputation. Just because of the wide media publicity and people always assuming the worst.
Jose Cardenas: A lot of the discussion at the ethics hearings has been the motivation. Why was this done? And at least one motive that's been suggested is silencing the supervisors. And you had as I understand it, some evidence of that even before the indictment -- before the hearings began.
Colin Campbell: Actually, we've always thought that the motivation that the sheriff and the county attorney had against Mary Rose was to silence her politically. What isn't well known is immediately after the indictment was filed, we received a call from the deputy county attorney who had the case, advising us right from the beginning that if she would plead guilty to three felonies, conflict of interest felonies, they would guarantee her probation. Now, the felony was removing her from office, but a specific statutory penalty was disqualification for public office. Which made it clear to us the whole purpose of this was to remove her from office and silence her as a political voice.
Jose Cardenas: We've heard other things at the hearings as to what was going on both within the county attorney's office and their dealings with the sheriff's office. Anything that's particularly surprising to you?
Colin Campbell: Actually, what's surprising to me is how the intuition that people had that four people were meeting and making these decisions have turned out to be true. Aubuchon's testimony yesterday at the disciplinary hearing. She talked about how she and Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Hendershott sat down and discussed the Donahue indictment.
Jose Cardenas: You're talking about the Judge Donahue?
Colin Campbell: Ye, Judge Donahue. Before it was filed. This was an insider deal by the top elected officials in the county and their chief aides. And what surprising is how frozen out the rest of the executive teams were. And I think again that shows the political motivation behind this.
Jose Cardenas: Sheriff Arpaio denied any recollection of being involved in any significant meeting.
Colin Campbell: The testimony seems very contradictory on that. It would -- to listen to Lisa Aubuchon, who describes the meeting and what they talked about in the meeting and sort of -- it's hard to believe you would forget everything about that meeting. But as lawyers say, those are issues of fact for judges and juries to decide.
Jose Cardenas: The testimony about Ms. Aubuchon's practices, for example, working off a draft indictment, at a rather early stage, compared to more experienced prosecutors.
Colin Campbell: It's surprising to think a prosecutor would draft up an indictment as a draft document to help them guide their decision about whether to indict or not. Most prosecutors would want to investigate, determine what the facts are before even thinking about an indictment. I think it shows that this started with a result in mind. I'm going down the road here, I'm going to indict and it's a matter of now how do I fill in the blanks to get there.
Jose Cardenas: The theories that have been suggested as to the other supervisor, a little different than with respect to Mary Rose. Hers the focus seemed to have been her stance on immigration, the others, the conflict had to do with the courthouse building. Something that was in the planning stages when you were on the bench.
Colin Campbell: Yes. We had done a space plan back in the early 2000s, and the centerpiece of that space plan, the 20-year plan for the court was the central court tower. And the county agreed with that plan and they started saving money to build the building. They said if -- they saved $240 million. And then when the economy collapsed, Sheriff Joe and the county attorney wanted to use that money for budget shortfalls as opposed to building a criminal court tower. So as far as I can tell, that's what started this idea that there was somehow some sort of conspiracy with respect to the court tower. They wanted to stop it from being built and divert the budget money over to their own uses.
Jose Cardenas: The suggestion was that Judge Donahue, the allegation was he was guilty of bribery. And the suggestion was that because he would somehow benefit from the construction of the courthouse tower.
Colin Campbell: This is one of the craziest allegations. When asked what the benefit was, Ms. Aubuchon said he would keep his title, which is sort of crazy, because --
Jose Cardenas: The title being presiding criminal judge.
Colin Campbell: Presiding criminal judge. That position is rotated generally every two to three years among the judges. So it's not anything that a judge owns, it's an office that a judge sits in and moves on to something else. They also suggested that he would get a courtroom in the new courthouse, but the county has to provide every judge a staff, a courtroom, the chambers. So the allegations of what was influencing him just seemed quite frankly a little lacking.
Jose Cardenas: What is your theory as to why they went after a sitting judge?
Colin Campbell: Donahue had a hearing scheduled that was going to disqualify Andrew Thomas from going forward with what he wanted to do. Because he had a conflict of interest. I think they -- the judge had previously ruled they had a conflict of interest on the court tower investigation. Which is why the case was sent out to Yavapai County. To me the evidence is somewhat overwhelming that they didn't want the judge to have that hearing, they didn't want the judge to disqualify him, and the only way to do it was to remove him by charging him with a crime.
Jose Cardenas: Last area of questioning, judge. The relationship between the sheriff's office and I'm talking about senior deputies, not the sheriff or David Hendershott, but other senior experienced deputies, also experienced members of the county attorney's office, that group and then this group being Lisa Aubuchon and Andrew Thomas.
Colin Campbell: What we've seen through the hearings is that members that weren't part of this small group balked at going forward. A number of deputies refused to sign the probable cause statement with respect to Judge Donahue. Similarly in the county attorney's office, normally big cases are vetted through your most experienced prosecutors because you want all that experience tell you whether you should go forward. And that process was completely bypassed - which led to the most awful results in my view.
Jose Cardenas: Judge thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." I'm sure we'll be talking about this for some time to come.
Colin Campbell: Thank you Jose.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you.
Colin Campbell:Attorney, former Superior Court Presiding Judge;