Tower Case Raises Questions For Law Expert 8-12-2010

Cara Liu, CBS 5 News
PHOENIXThere is no question things between some of Arizona's highest ranking officials are heated, but now questions are being raised about them going too far.
"It is unprecedented to have sort of the highest county officials, our role models, battling it out over what seems to be motive-wise politics in their worst form. Or, frankly, a grudge match," said Keith Swisher a law professor at the Phoenix School of Law.
However, that's not the only rare thing Swisher said he's watched unfold with former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas as he fought to indict several county leaders.
First, Swisher said it's rare the grand jury even voted to end the inquiry when jurors often choose to indict. Even stranger, Swisher said, was that Thomas kept trying.
"When it is a flat-out nip it in the butt on so many multiple levels, different counties, your grand jury itself, which usually does return an indictment it is rare to keep going," Swisher said.
The grand jury must have felt the evidence was not near enough to ever reach a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, he said. If the case was without merit, that could mean an even bigger strike against Thomas than just not getting his indictments.
"You cannot go forward without a merit basis it is a matter of ethics and our ethics fortunately are backed up at the end of the day by sanctions such as disbarment and suspensions, so stayed tuned," Swisher said.
He explained that the process to disbar a lawyer takes a long time. And if that's something the bar considers for Thomas, it wouldn't come until after the November election, in which Thomas is seeking to become the state's attorney general. That could be problematic, Swisher said, because you have to be a lawyer to serve as attorney general.

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