Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Those 40 fired DES employees who are being hired back?

Fired DES Director Tim Jeffries responds to the rehiring, explaining that they WERE fired for legitimate reasons. This is unfortunate for the good employees who now have to work with them again, and the poor will have to deal with them. As soon as I get ahold of their names I intend to expose as much as possible.

From comments he left at The Arizona Daily Independent -

Tim J., formerly "Director J." | December 24, 2016 at 8:33 am | Reply
From the “Fact Are Our Friends,” I note the following:
1) At DES, we reduced the size of the workforce by 2% (approx. 7,700 to 7,500) in line with the Governor Ducey’s initiative to reduce the overall size of government.
2) At DES, 475 employees (approx. 6%) were exited in line with Governor Ducey’s third expectation in his “8 Leadership Traits” memo to “weed out” the worst 10%.
3) The overall demographics of the 475 DES employees that were exited were in line with the overall demographic percentages of DES. Only poor performers and bad actors were targeted.
4) Per 2012 Personnel Reform, no reason is required for the release of an AT WILL employee yet legitimate reasons were still necessary for terminations during my directorship.
5) Every former AT WILL employee who was exited had the individual option to file legal action as the individual deemed appropriate.
6) Only one former AT WILL employee filed a legal claim, and she eventually withdrew her suit.
7) When I commenced my directorship approx. 1,800 employees were COVERED employees; when I concluded my work approx. 350 employees were covered employees.
8) My recollection is that during my directorship approx. 25 covered folks retired, and approx. 25 covered employees were exited.
9) Every COVERED employee who was exited had the individual option to file a grievance with the State Personnel Board.
10a) Only two former COVERED employees filed a termination grievance with the State Personnel Board, and the two DES actions were sustained.
10b) I heard one of the terminated covered employees was rehired which means ADOA overruled the State Personnel Board’s prior ruling sustaining the termination.
11) Overall, approx. former 1,400 covered folks continue to work at DES, and are eligible for annual merit payments (which is awesome for them and their families).
12) It will be interesting to review the list of the folks who will be offered jobs. I will not recognize every name. However, I will recognize some, and the some I recognize are ones that were terminated with a good reason or two or three or four…

Tim J., formerly "Director J." | December 24, 2016 at 8:58 am | Reply
I sure hope that this ex-employee (aka BULLY) is not rehired!!
From: DES HR
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2016 12:17 PM
To: Timothy Jeffries
Cc: Relevant DES Executives
Subject: RE: Loved my job. . . .now don’t know what I am going to do. . .
Good afternoon Director J.,
(The ex-employee in question) was elevated to be exited based on her rude, hostile and unprofessional comments to other colleagues, as well as performance deficiencies. I have attached our synopsis for your complete review but I wanted to highlight a couple of substantiated examples are:
• (The ex-employee in question) admittedly stated to her supervisor, when speaking about the quality case reader, ‘I want to ring my case reader’s neck….the case reader is anal and I might as well shove my cane up her ass.’
• Concerns regarding (the ex-employee in question) interaction with colleagues was being discussed with her by her office manager. During the meeting (The ex-employee in question) stated she ‘Feels like everyone else here is just waiting time, are snot-nosed kids’, while pumping her fists in the air in anger.
• (The ex-employee in question) stated to her manager, regarding other colleagues, ‘I am sick of all these babies telling what to do, when they are still wet behind the ears and I would like to put them over my knee.’
Her violations of the TRIAD and lack of remorse, as well as performance issues and resistance to coaching toward improvement were of great concern and led to her exit.
Please let me know if you would like any additional information or details.
Have a great day!
Human Resources Administrator

Monday, December 19, 2016

Death of a Reformer

Tim lightened up the agency with fun things like this smiley face statue
Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey fired his top reformer last month, Tim Jeffries, who he’d recruited to head the Department of Economic Security in February of 2015. Jeffries came in and cleaned up the agency, firing corrupt employees and improving morale, but once those terminated workers complained to the left-leaning Arizona Republic, the paper went all out to take him down with baseless smears, and the governor eventually deserted him.

With a background in the private sector, Jeffries went about reforming government at the “speed of business.” When Ducey took office almost two years ago, he instructed state agency directors to reduce their agencies by 2 percent. Jeffries is probably the only agency director who accomplished that goal, terminating 475 employees and eliminating some of those positions. Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, DES had become a bloated agency, the second largest in the state with over 7,000 employees and several hundred temporary workers and high-priced contractors.
Jeffries had the Arizona Attorney General’s Office bring charges against a corrupt state legislator who fraudulently obtained $1,726 in food stamps. Democratic Rep. Ceci Velasquez “falsely claimed she had two dependents, gave a false address and allowed two other people to use her food stamp benefit card.” A grand jury indicted her on three felonies for welfare fraud. The investigation had started under Jeffries’ predecessor, but went nowhere since he was afraid to touch it. Why are elected officials above the law? No Arizona public official had ever been investigated and prosecuted for food stamp fraud prior to Jeffries’ directorship. The AG’s office eventually caved, letting her plea to a mere misdemeanor charge and probation. Velasquez plans to run again for the Arizona House in 2018 after her lone misdemeanor clears.
Velasquez’s friend, Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada, launched a Twitter firestorm bashing Jeffries and defending Velasquez, predicting Jeffries’ demise. Jeffries set up a meeting with Quezada about the situation, but for well over an hour, all Quezada could do was act as an apologist for Velasquez. He talked about her lower income level and the poverty of her constituents, and claimed she was being targeted. Jeffries responded, “The only people that DES targets for investigation are those who steal from the poor. I’m not a policymaker, I’m a policy implementer. So if you and your elected colleagues want to pass a law that allows members of the House and Senate to have food stamps they’re not entitled to, then you pass a law to do so. Until then, DES will investigate anyone and everyone who rips off the poor.”
Once the media decides it doesn’t like you, it throws a bunch of accusations together with the words “controversial” and “scandal.” Craig Harris, a reporter with the Republic, is known for putting together sloppy paragraphs with a flashy headline, repeating the same baseless claims over and over throughout multiple articles. Additionally, the Republic suffers from a failure to separate between news and opinion articles. Republic opinion writer Laurie Roberts, also known for her hit pieces on conservatives, tag teamed with Harris against Jeffries. She became increasingly hyperbolic with her histrionics, titling one column “Booze Before Blood.” It was a cruel jab at Jeffries, because she knew fully well that one of the men who killed his brother drank alcohol before killing him.  
The paper piled on Jeffries and his revamped management team for firing 475 employees, accusing him of terminating employees who didn’t deserve to be fired. Yet none of this reporting addressed the specific reasons the former employees were terminated, including the fact most of the employees were at-will employees and only one of them had sued the agency over it. The Republic and other newspapers could not stand Jeffries blunt-spoken style; Jeffries did not hesitate to call some of the fired employees “bullies, liars, racists, sexual harassers, and multi-year bad actors.” Instead, the biased articles discussed how many of the employees were women, seniors, and minorities even though the percentages released were in line with DES employee statistics.
The reality is there was a lot of unseemly, unethical and criminal activity taking place. After Jeffries was terminated, an employee emailed him, “I want to thank you for your selfless service to all employees, clients and taxpayers during your time at DES. It was obvious to most employees how you gave back and touched many people with the true intent of helping the poor and those who serve them. I’ve worked at DES since 2008 and believe me the agency as well as anyone who has ever paid taxes owes you a debt of gratitude. Most of those a**holes that got fired were stealing from the poor or manipulating those who bust their a** to serve them.”
The Republic is now sympathetically covering the attempts of the terminated employees to regain their jobs.
Ironically, Jeffries was fired in part for merely carrying out the governor’s orders — something probably all the other agency directors failed to do. They were instructed in the governor’s “8 Expected Traits of an Agency Director” to “Be wedded to a ‘promote the best; weed out the worst’ philosophy.” They were told, “The Bell Curve is a near-universal phenomenon. Figure out a way to eliminate the worst 10% of any category. … If there are employees who are clearly under-performing and ill-serving the taxpayers, then take steps to replace them with someone who will do better.”
Jeffries slashed the case backlog by approximately 60 percent at Adult Protective Services. He increased the percentage of employees who said they were satisfied with their jobs from 62 percent to 78 percent. Positive colleague engagement increased 300 percent. In other words, employee morale tripled. He created a fun, caring work atmosphere. He put together inspiring, lighthearted videos featuring the employees and outlining their accomplishments, often making fun of himself to give his “cherished colleagues” a laugh or two. One observer told him, “My guess is that for the vast majority of your employees, for one bright shining moment, they were somebody doing incredibly important work for an agency that they could be proud of.”
A DES employee told him it’s a shame the public doesn’t know that “you created merit payments, you brought back tuition, you raised wages on the front line and regularly visited staff around the state to address issues for clients and employees alike.” Jeffries describes himself as an “anti-bureaucrat,” telling National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “I shepherd this agency like a multimillion-dollar nonprofit.”
The Republic extensively covered a series of allegations against Jeffries, but virtually all of them are false. He was accused of compiling a “do-not-hire” list of fired DES employees — but it was really another agency which created the list, the Department of Administration.
He was wrongly attacked for his Catholic faith, which I addressed in a previous article. Government employees do not check their First Amendment rights at the workplace door; when I worked for Arizona State Government, our Bible Study group legally used the email system to schedule our meetings. Jeffries is told he’s bold about his faith, but he says, “I’m just pursuing my faith and honoring my First Amendment rights.”
Leah Landrum-Taylor, a former Democratic state legislator who worked for Jeffries and reportedly wanted his job, told the Republic that Jeffries bought alcohol for employees during work hours in Nogales, but it was a lie; Jeffries has a time-stamped photo of him with Landrum-Taylor in the Nogales DES office after the time she stated the party started. The restaurant visit took place for colleagues after their respective work hours. Every DES client was kindly served that day in Nogales and throughout Arizona. The paper also smeared him for using the “governor’s plane” for the trip, however the three state planes are owned by the Department of Public Safety, and the interagency agreement for DES to use air assets was in place prior to Jeffries’ arrival. Furthermore, other Arizona agency directors use the planes too.
The Republic and other media sources have repeatedly featured DES employee Andy Hall, who Jeffries had terminated shortly after Hall criticized the DES press secretary for emailing employees about his latest disagreement with Jeffries. The Republic didn’t bother to report that “Hall is a know it all, never afraid to challenge, grate and insult people,” a source told me. Hall “sent two insulting emails to the DES press secretary” and ranted online frequently about DES and Jeffries. Regardless, as an at-will employee, no reason was required to fire him.
Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, over 30 DES service centers had armed security guards to protect employees and clients. After the terrorist attack in San Bernardino took place at a social services center for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, Jeffries directed his inspector general to transition the contract guard security force to a newly formed DES Protective Services. This group would continue the paramount mission to protect DES employees and clients. This group would also be better trained and more cost effective, thereby positioning DES to expand the number of service centers with armed protection. The Republic slammed him for implementing this common-sense measure, even though DPS guidelines were followed throughout and the effort to protect DES employees and clients was highly transparent.

This is a classic example of how the left is able to take down the brightest, innovative conservatives; through smears, insinuations and outright lies. Since Jeffries’ departure, many of the significant projects have been halted. It is the poor, disabled and downtrodden who will suffer as government returns to moving at the speed of a glacier, fired “bullies and bad actors” return, and agency morale plummets. The bright shining moment for thousands of DES employees is dimming.

For more information, see Arizona's Poor Lost When Jeffries Was Axed

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Arizona is set to rebrand Common Core again, time is running out

If you put lipstick on the Common Core pig, it is still a pig!

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and State Board of Education (SBE) are on the verge of rebranding the Common Core State Standards for the second time in three years. The latest 2016 draft of the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards shows very few changes.

Jennifer Reynolds, publisher of Arizonans Against Common Core, circulated an urgent communication Wednesday urging the public to speak out against the proposed 2016 standards.

The ADE Working Groups were tasked to review and incorporate our public comments which have been ignored. Our pleas to take out the “prescriptive examples and developmentally inappropriate standards for ELA and Mathematics” have been brushed aside, and the ADE Working Groups proceeded with the 2nd rewrite with very little changes to the Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards (aka Common Core). If you put lipstick on the Common Core pig, it is still a pig!
When Governor Jan Brewer (R) used an executive order to rebrand Common Core in 2013, there was less public awareness regarding the standards. The growing awareness among the public has not effected change. Parents and teachers have watched Arizona become one of the top five worst states for teachers and school-system quality.

Reynolds has a message to everyone who wants Common Core repealed and local control of education restored:

We need your voices at the Arizona Standards Development Committee Meeting on December 14th.
December 14, 9am at the ADE building (1535 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85007). If you have commented on the draft 2016 ELA and Math standards AND/OR if you are fed up with what is happening in your child’s classroom with the Common Core standards and testing please show up and let your voices be heard. Nothing will change in Arizona if the 2016 ELA and Mathematics standards are approved by the Arizona Standards Development Committee and the State Board of Education which will happen with a subsequent vote. Common Core will be here to stay if we don’t rise up and stop it! 

Can't attend the meeting?  HERE is a list of who to contact.

Read the rest of the article at Western Free Press

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sessions’ first move at DOJ should be to clear Rep. Rick Renzi

Once Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general, he must work with Congress to clean up the corruption within the Department of Justice. One of the first cases he should review is the prosecution of former Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi.

As a former assistant attorney general for the state of Arizona and a former prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, I have never seen a more egregious political prosecution as well as corrupt electioneering by a foreign interest than the DOJ’s crusade against Renzi.

Some may remember that Renzi was convicted in a split verdict on some corruption counts involving two proposed federal land exchanges. What has been found since casts grave doubt on the legitimacy of the investigation, prosecution, and conviction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New AG Sessions and Congress Must Investigate DOJ Corruption in the Case of Rep. Rick Renzi

Now that Donald Trump has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as his likely incoming Attorney General, there is no doubt Sessions —  an ethical, proactive conservative —  will fight to clean up years of mounting corruption in the Department of Justice under the Obama administration, which has destroyed its reputation. The DOJ has become so politicized that few elected officials feel safe anymore. As attorney Harvey Silverglate wrote in his book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, the average American unknowingly commits three felonies a day because of the growing number of vague laws on the books and the desire for prosecutors to get their trophies.
One of the first steps Sessions must take is to end the DOJ’s political case against former Congressman Rick Renzi, and discipline the corrupt prosecutor and FBI agent. As a former Assistant Attorney General for the state of Arizona and a former prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, I first began investigating this case almost two years ago, and by far it is the worst I have encountered of a politically targeted official.
Back when Renzi was starting his first congressional term in 2002, Resolution Copper Company —  a joint venture controlled by foreign mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton — began lobbying Congress for the rights to mine on federal lands inside Renzi’s congressional district which were sacred to the Apache tribe.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sign the petition to impeach corrupt AZ Bar disciplinary judge William O'Neil

Petitioning State Supreme Court of Arizona and 7 others


Star Moffatt, Co-Owner Moffatt Law Firm Lancaster, CA

Sunday, November 13, 2016

VIDEO: DES Director Tim Jeffries instills a caring atmosphere at agency, watch his speech to employees

He may have been attacked numerous times by the sleazy Phoenix New Times, which targets Christian conservatives relentlessly who dare to actively challenge wrongdoing, but that's not stopping DES Director Tim Jeffries from trying to create the most good at the agency. He's cleaned out 475 of the worst employees, making it a much more pleasant place to work for everyone else. Instead of being credited for reducing a bloated government agency, he was viciously attacked by the New Times, which is now targeting him. Watch this video for yourself to see what Tim is like, as he gives a talk to DES employees. In contrast to the foul things written about him, you will see he actually is the best type of director, because he legitimately cares about each and every employee as if they are family. To find this atmosphere at what usually has the reputation of being a "cold, welfare agency" is refreshing and expect to see metrics improve in the near future.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The article the Arizona Bar doesn't want you to see - they got it removed from Forbes after two hours!

If you follow this website, you know about the depths of corruption within the Arizona State Bar. It's gotten so bad that one of the former members of the Bar's Board of Governors wrote an op-ed for Forbes recently exposing it. Well, within a couple hours after the article was posted here on the Forbes site, it was removed! (note the title is still in the url - proof it was there) When the author inquired about it, he discovered that the Bar had complained to Forbes - on frankly bogus pretenses. Well, that's OK, we'll just post it here for everyone in Arizona to read. And perhaps re-post it on other sites, and re-post it again and again. We've learned that the Arizona Bar disciplinary judge William O'Neil "is a member of the Barnett family, which is basically a one family crime syndicate that everyone in Pinal County knows." While throwing the book at innocent conservative Republican attorneys, disbarring many of them, he hired a bailiff who had seven felony convictions, and after another buddy put through a crooked short sale for him to benefit O'Neil's mother-in-law, O'Neil rewarded him by letting him continue to practice law in prison after killing a woman in a DUI! (click here) So we're basically up against organized crime, but there are now enough of us fighting back, through legislative reform and media exposure, that they can't keep us silent any longer through threats and squelching free speech.

 Arizona's Legal Ethics, Public Corruption And Lawyer Discipline' Sui Generis' Or A National Pattern?
Mr. Levine was a member of the Arizona Bar’s Board of Governors from 2011 to 2013.

Do Arizona lawyers really have lower ethical standards than lawyers in New York, Illinois, California and other states? Or is Arizona merely unique and not representative of the practice of law elsewhere? 

Undeniably, our nation’s large law firms play a valuable role in our legal system by handling complex legal matters such as multinational corporate business transactions, IPO offerings, corporate mergers and acquisitions, patents and copyrights, international law, intellectual property rights, etc. However, due to the scope and magnitude of their work, large law firms also have the capacity to cause enormous harm when engaged in illegal or unethical conduct, either on their own behalf, or at the direction of unscrupulous clients.

Curiously, there are far more sole practitioners and smallfirm lawyers who become the subject of disciplinary proceedings than bigfirm lawyers. In addition to the possibility that bigfirm Capital Flows Contributor Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. lawyers may not be reporting unethical conduct among their own, one might also conclude that more sole practitioners and smallfirm lawyers receive discipline for alleged ethical violations than bigfirm lawyers because the ethical standards of bigfirm lawyers may be higher than that of sole practitioners or smallfirm lawyers. In one sense, this may be true because the large law firms generally do a better job of overseeing ethics among associates and frequently have “inhouse” ethics counsel who “nip problems in the bud” before they become bar complaints. Also the big law firms carry malpractice insurance and are quicker to “lawyer up” to defend and litigate against complaints, while many sole practitioners and smallfirm lawyers may not carry such insurance.

Also, a deeper exploration of this issue suggests that when firmwide unethical conduct occurs in big law firms, it occurs as a matter of law firm policy and because of this may be of such enormous magnitude that for political, economic, social or other reasons, it has been totally ignored by the lawyer regulation system of the various state bar associations.

The role of large firm lawyerlobbyists, raising substantial sums of money for members of state legislatures on behalf of clients seeking to influence a particular legislative agenda should be a matter of some ethical concern to the profession, not only in Arizona, but everywhere. In Arizona, we have also been occasionally treated to the spectacle of large law firms carrying on legislative lobbying activities for clients while their partners are, at the same time, active members of the legislative body they are seeking to influence.

Large firms’ “captive client” relationships

Over a number of years, two of Arizona’s largest law firms have gradually taken over control of the state’s two largest public utilities by placing their firm members, former firm members and relatives on their governing boards and executive offices, while at the same time each serving as their law firms. It is also a matter of some irony that while these law firms were taking control of their public utility clients, members of one of these law firms served for many years as the State Bar’s Chief Ethics Counsel.

When a law firm controls a public utility’s governing board and executive offices, this results in the creation of a “captive client” who is powerless to make independent decisions concerning what law firm should represent them, what legal services they require and, most importantly for the utility’s ratepayers, the size of the law firm’s legal bills. Not only is this an egregious ethical violation, but there is concern that excessive legal fees paid to these law firms over the many years that these arrangements have existed may have amounted to billions of dollars. If these practices did not exist, the cost of water and electricity would be considerably less for consumers than they are now. Are these practices limited only to Arizona or are the financial incentives for large law firms to impose their control over our public utilities so great that these practices exist everywhere?

Another unethical scheme that has long existed in Arizona that has gone unchallenged and, may also be ignored in other states, has been the practice of large law firms contributing bundled campaign contributions from firm members, relatives and friends to political candidates who, when elected, control government agencies at the state, county and municipal levels. These contributing law firms are then generously rewarded by successful candidates through the referral of all of their agency’s outside legal business to the law firm. Such “pay to play” schemes also have many of the earmarks of a “captive client” relationship between the contributing law firm and the government agency, because the head of the government agency who has received gifts of campaign money is less likely to look out for the interests of taxpaying citizens.

Also, of concern are large law firms who have profited in real estate transactions from information supplied to them by firm members serving on committees entrusted by the public to select sites for county and municipal development projects. In addition, during the Arizona Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980s, an investigation revealed that members of large law firms acted as intermediate “purchasers and sellers” of their clients’ real estate in order to fraudulently boost the value of such land so that their developer clients could obtain higher sale prices and larger loans based on these artificially inflated values. 

Large firms’ relationship to the bar

One would think that the intentional involvement in such egregious conflicts of interest would result in severe condemnation and drastic disciplinary sanctions, but the State Bar of Arizona has been strangely silent on such issues. It has been suggested that one of the reasons the State Bar, as well as bar associations in other mandatory bar states, may consistently turn their otherwise stern gaze away from the activities of the big law firms is because lawyers in the large law firms in these states constitute a substantial voting block which controls the election of candidates to the bar’s governing boards.

In addition, because large firms have such a significant financial stake in perpetuating these unethical moneymaking practices and have substantial resources to defend themselves against disciplinary charges, this serves as an effective deterrent to disciplinary action by the various state bar associations. Taking on one of the big firms over such issues would require an enormous expenditure of time, money and effort by state bar associations in pursuing such a task, which could quickly exhaust their financial resources. It is much easier for state bar associations to pursue sole practitioners or smallfirm lawyers who rarely have the financial ability to defend themselves. With legal bills in such cases sometimes running as high as $50,000 or more, very few sole practitioners or smallfirm lawyers can afford legal representation in disciplinary matters, not to mention the time that this takes away from their practice and, the emotional strain of undergoing a disciplinary proceeding without an extensive support system, such as exists in the large law firms.

Also, one disturbing feature of Arizona’s disciplinary system, which may be occurring elsewhere, is the assessment of fines, denominated by the bar as “costs” ranging from $1,200 up to $100,000 against lawyers charged with ethical misconduct. These “costs” when collected are lumped together with the State Bar’s other revenues and used to pay the salaries of staff members in the Lawyer Regulation Office which average over $100,000 a year. Perhaps the most disturbing feature of Arizona’s disciplinary system is the perception on the part of many lawyers that the State Bar uses its disciplinary system as a device to intimidate lawyers to prevent them from speaking out against the State Bar’s policies and actions with which they disagree. This chilling perception was recently reinforced when several sole practitioners who openly advocated for the conversion of Arizona’s mandatory state bar to a voluntary bar at legislative hearings on this subject found themselves on the receiving end of “questionable” disciplinary charges pursued against them by the State Bar.

Flawed lawyer disciplinary programs

It is generally agreed that the core function of a lawyer discipline system is to protect the public against unethical lawyers and to instill a sense of confidence in the legal profession. This leads to a brooding concern among many who are involved in enforcing the profession’s ethical rules in the various states that if they do not demonstrate that they are being sufficiently “tough” on lawyers, the public may demand that state legislatures step in and remove the disciplinary function from state bar associations and set up their own disciplinary agency under the legislature’s control.

It may be for this reason that Arizona’s disciplinary system often functions in its pursuit of sole practitioners and smallfirm lawyers much like the black holes in outer space—once you enter its orbit, “nothing escapes, not even light.” As a result, those lawyers in Arizona who specialize in defending other lawyers in disciplinary proceedings make it a routine practice to advise their clients to plead guilty and accept whatever plea agreement is offered by the State Bar’s Lawyer Regulation Office. This is so, because if lawyers demand an evidentiary hearing, they will almost without exception be found guilty, and punishment for the lawyer will usually end up being far more severe than if they had accepted the State Bar’s original offer for discipline.

One of the common misperceptions that is thought to fuel many of the attitudes and beliefs held by those involved in enforcing the various state bar disciplinary programs is that the public’s image of the legal profession has fallen to its present low level, primarily because of the conduct of unethical lawyers. However, public polling conducted a number of years ago by the American Bar Association on this issue suggests otherwise. Their study concluded that although individual acts of unethical conduct do clearly hurt the profession, this does not even approach the collective damage done to the image of lawyers by billboards and other mass media advertising, soliciting accident victims in order to bring personal injury claims and law suits. If lawyers seek to improve their public image as “ambulance chasers,” constitutionally valid restrictions imposed by state bars on personal injury advertising might be a far more effective way to do this than continuing to beef up their disciplinary programs.

Lawyer disciplinary reform

In order to promote fairness and to comply with basic “due process” requirements, it is necessary to ensure that those who administer state bar disciplinary programs be “fairminded” individuals. One of the principal flaws in the way these programs have been administered is the jaundiced view that is frequently acquired by lawyers and others who serve, year after year, as hearing officers, members of hearing committees or as members of disciplinary commissions, who consider appeals from hearing committees. Also, many who fill these positions are recruited for these positions by the lawyer regulation offices of the various state bars.

Many of those who respond to such recruiting do so because of a desire to rid the bar of unethical lawyers, a desire which is too often psychologically “projected” on all lawyers who come before them, thereby creating a powerful negative bias when considering individual cases. Although, those who are accepted for appointment for these positions normally go through an orientation program, the program is usually conducted by the state bar’s disciplinary staff and recruits then serve year after year as hearing officers, on hearing committees and disciplinary commissions, working closely with the state bar’s disciplinary staff in deciding the fate of lawyers in disciplinary cases.

By comparison, if a county attorney or state attorney general solicited applications from those who were willing to serve as jurors in criminal cases so that criminals could be punished or eliminated from society and, who were then trained by the prosecutor for their duties and, only then were permitted to serve as jurors in case after case, year after year, surely there would be a thunderous outcry that such a system was grossly unfair and an outrageous denial of “due process.” Yet, this is precisely how many state bar disciplinary systems have always functioned in mandatory bar states. In the view of many lawyers in such states, the state bar acts much like a “Frankenstein Monster,” running amuck among the lawyers, far too often striking down the innocent as well as the guilty. Despite substantial revisions in recent years to the rules of procedure in disciplinary cases, it is believed by many that these changes have done little to tame the “Frankenstein Monster.”

One of the clearest indications that fairness and due process are frequently lacking in state bar disciplinary cases is the curious practice of imposing increased sanctions against lawyers who do not show remorse at their disciplinary hearings. In disciplinary matters, an expression of remorse is considered an important mitigating factor and, conversely, lack of it is considered an aggravating factor in determining an appropriate sanction for the lawyer. In one disciplinary case, In Re Shannon, 179 Ariz. This article is available online at: 2016 Forbes.com LLC™ All Rights Reserved 52, 81 (1994), Justice Thomas Zlaket, of the Arizona Supreme Court, much to his credit, recognized the absurdity of such a practice: 

“I fear that today’s opinion sends an erroneous message to those facing the disciplinary process: that if they dare to challenge the charges against them, the consequences may be more severe than if they simply confess wrongdoing and pray for mercy. There is something demoralizing and destructive in such a message, something that violates the very spirit upon which our legal system is premised.”

Despite the adoption of recent reforms, including intake procedures designed to prevent frivolous complaints from entering the system and an “ethics school” for lawyers accused of minor violations, the lack of essential fairness in many parts of the lawyer disciplinary process has yet to be addressed. If efforts at lawyer selfregulation are to be honored and respected by the public and members of the legal profession, the basic inequities in the present system must be resolved and its foundations restructured consistent with essential notions of fairness and “due process.” There is widespread concern among lawyers in Arizona and elsewhere, that if state bar associations cannot provide a disciplinary system where justice prevails for lawyers, can lawyers seek it for others?

Mr. Levine is also past Chair of the Arizona Bar’s Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Lawyer Section’s Study Committee On Lawyer Discipline.