Appeals Court Rules Thomas, Aubuchon Can Be Sued

August 16, 2013

A panel of federal appeals judges have ruled that a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a former Maricopa county attorney and a top aide can proceed. That means the county is on the line for any potential damages.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Friday that former Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas and his aide, Lisa Aubuchon, do not have immunity, and can be sued by former County Supervisor Don Stapley for damages. 

Stapley is suing them for filing what he says was a frivolous racketeering suit against him and others. He alleged the suit was meant to harass him in an ongoing political battle. 

Later, Thomas and Aubuchon were disbarred, in part for filing that suit without sufficient evidence. 

"The conduct of Thomas and Aubuchon is conduct the taxpayers will ultimately have to pick up the tab for and is a further example how notorious and expensive this misbehavior of Thomas and Aubuchon was while he was County Attorney," said Michael Manning, an attorney on Stapley's legal team.

Attorneys for Thomas and Aubuchon tried to argue the two were immune from Stapley's lawsuit because they were acting as prosecutors when they filed the suit, but the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that rejected that position.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story heard on the radio erroneously suggested that if Stapley's suit ultimately prevailsThomas and Aubuchon would have to pay potential damages personally. 

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