August 31, 2011
Host: Ted Simons
Andrew Thomas Ethics Hearing
- Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas faces an ethics hearing that’s scheduled to start September 12th. Attorney Karen Clark, who specializes in legal ethics and attorney discipline matters, explains what Thomas faces and how the attorney discipline process works.
- Karen Clark - Legal Ethics Attorney
| Keywords: ethics
, attorney discipline
Ted Simons: Former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas faces an ethics hearing which could result in penalties up to and including disbarment. The hearing is scheduled to start September 12th. To learn more about this
particular attorney discipline process, I recently spoke with Karen Clark. She's a former ethics counsel for the state bar of Arizona. She teaches legal ethics at ASU law school and in her private practice, she specializes in representing lawyers and judges in disciplinary matters. Thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon."
Karen Clark: You're welcome. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Give us an overview here. What is Andrew Thomas facing?
Karen Clark: Well, Andrew Thomas is facing formal sanctions and there was an investigation that was done and the investigator, John Glisan recommended a specific sanction in his investigative report N. a formal proceeding what that means is that the prosecutor is seeking either seven sure, suspension or disbarment.
Ted Simons: Ok. The investigation, how did that get started? Who decided to go with it and who did the investigation?
Karen Clark: It initially started with the state bar of Arizona. There was a initial set of complaints, many complaints over a period of year. The initial investigation done by the state bar of Arizona. Then later as things evolved in the underlying matters, there were more complaints and some of those complaints involved attorneys actually involved with the board of governors for the state bar and so the state bar decided it had a conflict of interest and going forward with the investigation, so they -- the Supreme Court of Arizona appointed John Glisan who is the chief bar counsel of Colorado bar, to do the investigation and now he's doing the prosecution. He had to, though, present the results of his investigation to a probable cause panelist and a special probable cause panelist was appointed to decide whether there was probable cause to go forward.
Ted Simons: With the disciplinary aspect.
Karen Clark: With the formal case.
Ted Simons: Yeah, a three-member panel?
Karen Clark: Yes, it's a brand new system for Arizona, never had it before and it is three people -- three-person panels. The presiding disciplinary judge has been handling everything up to this point. Up to the actual trial it's only the presiding disciplinary judge, William O'Neil who took the job when the new system took effect. But once it goes to trial, it's in front of the three-judge panel. A volunteer attorney and a member of the public, a Mr. hall, a priest and volunteer member of the panel.
Ted Simons: Who decide who's is on the panel?
Karen Clark: I believe that they were appointed by the Supreme Court.
Ted Simons: By the Supreme Court?
Karen Clark: I believe so.
Ted Simons: Ok. Will the evidence presented deal mostly if not entirely with the investigation?
Karen Clark: Yes, yes, the bar did a report about its investigation and had to ask for probable cause on specific ethical rules. E.R.'s and that's what they're going forward on, there's disclosure and discovery. The rules of the Supreme Court governing disciplinary proceedings, some of the rules incorporated, the rules about delivery discovery, showing your case to the other side. So only proceeding under what think disclose to the other side they're going forward on.
Ted Simons: And as far as it's presented as you would expect, a hearing, you would present to the panel and that's it? Is there cross-examination? What goes on here?
Karen Clark: Yeah, and it is like a trial. It's an administrative hearing so it's administrative law but it's akin to a trial. The rules of the Supreme Court specifically incorporate certain rules and the rules of evidence and the state bar has the burden of proving their case by clear and convincing evidence and the respondent has the private to put on a case and it looks for all intents and purposes like a trial.
Ted Simons: Define ethical violations. What are we talking about here?
Karen Clark: The ethical rules, the rules of the Supreme Court. Each state's Supreme Court has the inherent authority to regulate the practice of law. Within the jurisdiction of that state. And state of Arizona has adopted ethical rules, rules of the Supreme Court. Found at rule 42 and its E.R.s dealing with everything you can imagine about the practice of law and they're going to attempt to prove he violated certain ethical rules, it's a minimum standard for the conduct of attorneys.
Ted Simons: And he will be allowed to respond to the allegations?
Karen Clark: Absolutely. He's entitled to counsel and he has two representing him, as far as I understand, and they'll be questioning witnesses and making opening statements and cross-examining and presenting their side of the case. The state bar has the burden so they'll go first and then the respondent lawyers can go. And there are three of them.
Ted Simons: What sanctions does Andrew Thomas face? How far or shallow does it go? Either/or.
Karen Clark: These are serious allegations and the prosecutor is going to ask for disbarment, I'm sure.
Ted Simons: Really?
Karen Clark: I would think so, based on the report.
Ted Simons: Is that unusual?
Karen Clark: Disbarments are unusual in general. The evidence has to be pretty bad. The purpose of lawyer discipline is not to punish attorneys. The purpose is to protect the public. And so the ultimate sanction of losing your license is only required if protection of the public requires it. So not that many attorney, seven, eight, nine, 10, make may get disbarred in any given year in Arizona. It's a rare sanction, concerning we have around 20,000 practicing attorneys in Arizona. What's extremely storied is for a elect -- stream rare is a elected county attorney.
Ted Simons: Do we have a history of this in Arizona?
Karen Clark: There are several prosecutorial misconduct in Arizona. Those -- none of those as far as I know was the elected county attorney.
Ted Simons: And because with the county attorney, this is in connection with your official duties, correct? That has to be rare even of itself.
Karen Clark: That's very true, but the county attorney is not only an elected official but also a lawyer and subject to the ethical rules just as any other lawyer is.
Ted Simons: The appeals process, does he have the right to appeal?
Karen Clark: Absolutely, under the old system up to January 1st, there was an appeal to an intermediate appellate body, the disciplinary commission and also an appeal to the Supreme Court of Arizona. The new system provides it's a direct appeal to the Supreme Court and you have the right of direct appeal. It's no longer discretionary.
Ted Simons: And talking December 12th the hearing?
Karen Clark: Set to start on December 12th and run -- I've heard they've scheduled it anywhere 25 to 45 days. I imagine if they weren't done at 45, they'd keep going, but that's the park.
Ted Simons: Do they usually go that long?
Karen Clark: They don't normally go that long at all. Many simple matters can be handled in a one-day hearing; a week long disciplinary hearing is a long hearing. So 45 days is extraordinary.
Ted Simons: Some of the Andrew Thomas' critics says he stretches things and goes to every avenue possible. There really are a diminishing number of avenues for him to go, correct? If they find reason and agree to a disbarment, he only has the Supreme Court to go to, correct?
Karen Clark: Mostly, yes. The Arizona Supreme Court, as I said, each Supreme Court of each state has ultimate jurisdiction over the attorneys practicing within that state. There are some very rare exceptions. Constitutional protections. The United States Supreme Court --
Ted Simons: Sure.
Karen Clark: -- has issued opinions dealing with lawyer discipline matters if the attorney's constitutional rights were somehow infringed but that's a tiny fraction of cases.
Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Karen Clark: You're welcome.
Arizona Technology and Innovation: First Solar
- Progress is coming fast on a huge solar panel factory being built in Mesa. The First Solar factory will cover 1.3 million square feet when completed. Solar panel production is expected to start in the middle of next year. Todd Spangler, who was recently named the plant’s manager, will discuss the progress of First Solar.
- Todd Spangler - First Solar Plant Manager
| Keywords: solar
Ted Simons: A dedication ceremony was held recently for First Solars new solar panel manufacturing plant in Mesa. I'll talk to the new manager of the plant, Todd Spangler. Why did -- was it the best spot? Texas and New Mexico fighting hard for this?
Todd Spangler: When you looked at the economics, the support of the state, the incentive, the labor force -- a great option for us.
Ted Simons: And as far as the airport being nearby, ASU, the polytechnic out there -- factors?
Todd Spangler: Sure, the greater valley, you know, a great place for us and helped with the supply chain options and also the college being nearby certainly is a great training resource we feel we'll be able to utilize.
Ted Simons: What exactly does this plant build?
Todd Spangler: We -- we follow what is called a copy smart mentality. All of our plants produce the same thing. It's a two foot by four foot solar panel that generates power. That's it.
Ted Simons: That's it? Not a lot of diversification. Make one thing and do it well.
Todd Spangler: Very well, yes.
Ted Simons: The buildings, this is the first of what could be how many?
Todd Spangler: The campus is designed so we could put four buildings. The first is 1.35 million square feet. Yeah.
Ted Simons: And three others could come along the pike?
Todd Spangler: Depending on demand, sure.
Ted Simons: And we're looking at the construction process. Seems like it's going up fast. Are you surprised by how fast?
Todd Spangler: The copy smart mentality help -- the copy smart mentality benefits us tremendously. It's something we're good at.
Ted Simons: When will this be now?
Todd Spangler: Mid year.
Todd Spangler: Mid next year.
Ted Simons: How many jobs?
Todd Spangler: 600 in manufacturing, 500 construction jobs also to start.
Ted Simons: What wages?
Todd Spangler: We're very competitive, company in terms of wages, it varies dramatically because we're hiring engineers to management and we've got finance and a bulk of production workers.
Ted Simons: If the other buildings do get started, is there a timetable for that? Basically waiting for the market?
Todd Spangler: Not at this time. It's market driven.
Ted Simons: Speaking of the market, what is the market for what's being built there?
Todd Spangler: Sure, the market is primarily for first solar, utility escape pouts. There are a -- power plants, there are a few power plants in Arizona we're working on right now, where they're like the traditional forms of power, generating electricity fed to the grid and the other major market is rooftop applications.
Ted Simons: I read somewhere that Germany was number one for now.
Todd Spangler: Germany has been heavy in the solar industry though that's changing as the world recognizes the advantage of having solar electricity.
Ted Simons: You think the United States could be up there close?
Todd Spangler: We think within the next year, the United States could be a primary market.
Ted Simons: Yeah.
Ted Simons: You guys are building in Yuma?
Todd Spangler: There's a large site there, yes.
Ted Simons: Is there a relationship going on here? Is this something you'll be able to use?
Todd Spangler: Sure, as we looked at where to expand our capacity, building in the U.S. was driven largely by some of the U.S. demand, like Yuma.
Ted Simons: So basically, Arizona because of this kind of push for solar power help make this decision for first solar?
Todd Spangler: Certainly a part of it, yeah. The political climate here was certainly a big factor toward the support we got toward the decision we made.
Ted Simons: Plant manager.
Todd Spangler: That's my title.
Ted Simons: What are you going to do? Walking around bossing people around.
Todd Spangler: Hopefully, there's a little bit more to it. We have a great team we've started to recruit and we believe in a team atmosphere and everybody has a voice.
Ted Simons: And from where you sit, the state of solar power in Arizona, in the United States, in the world, what -- what are you seeing?
Todd Spangler: We're on the verge of a major crossroads with solar power. Anyone that does research knows the term grid parody and the fact that we're so close to being to the point where solar power could be at grid parity with other forms of electricity and when that happens, it's a big deem.
Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Todd Spangler: Thanks for having me, Ted.
Child Protective Services
- Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security Clarence Carter discusses his department’s division of Child Protective Services.
- Clarence Carter - Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security
| Keywords: child protection
, protective services
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: The recent death of a 6-year-old boy who had been under the supervision of child protective services is again raising questions about CPS. Yesterday, we heard from "Arizona Republic" columnist Laurie Roberts and her criticisms of CPS. Tonight, we hear from Clarence Carter, the director of the Arizona department of economic security, which oversees CPS. It's good to have you here again. Thanks for joining us.
Clarence Carter: Ted, it's my pleasure. Good to be here with you.
Ted Simons: Basic question. I'm not going through the litany of cases here. We're familiar with them. Can CPS handle the case loads of 11,000 kids as this department is now run?
Clarence Carter: Ted, the headline to that answer is "yes." The story is how we do that is a constantly evolving process, we must always tweak or practice and preparation of the labor force to do that, but absolutely, we can do this job.
Ted Simons: Critics, CPS has to deal with more case and fewer resources. The cuts, $260 million some old mill I didn't know. You got more workloads and pay that's been frozen and fewer services out there. Is that acceptable to you?
Clarence Carter: I would be disingenuous if I didn't say there are not issues of resource and resource altercation, but that's not all of what is at play here. There are many issues of design, of our system, of preparation of our labor force, yes, the resource and resource allocation and we have to factor all of those in to the way we make the strongest child protective system.
Ted Simons: And we had Laurie Roberts on, "The Arizona Republic" columnist, a bulldog. Some of the stories she was doing years ago are still happening. Asked her last night regarding the impact of cuts and need for change, and here's what Laurie Roberts of "The Arizona Republic" had to say last night.
VO/Laurie Roberts: Certainly, there's budget issues and shame on the legislature for not giving them what they need. This particular director has an opportunity, I think, should he have the guts to speak truth to power above and try to get the people below him to change the culture and really make some real changes in that place.
Ted Simons: You got the guts to do that?
Clarence Carter: We definitely have the guts to do that. And we were working on the plans to do so. I consider -- I consider Laurie Roberts to be an ally in an overarching attempt to help us have the strongest child protection system that is possible. But, yes, we have absolutely the guts to do what we need do and the vision. And quite frankly, we have the competent labor force to do so.
Ted Simons: You've met with the governor on this. Have you told the governor that these kind of changes are necessary? What have you told the governor, again, resource, the folks involved, the whole nine yard? What are you telling her and what are you hearing back?
Clarence Carter: The conversation that we had with the governor, first began with her reaffirmation of her charge to us to have the strongest most effective, most transparent child welfare system. And once she was clear on that, she then wanted to hear from me and the agency how we are tracking toward that and so we had many discussions about specific challenges of the day, baked-in challenges and our plans for how we are remediating and what she directed me to do is to bring her office intimately into the plans for addressing these issues and the design, because she wants to know where it is she needs to exercise her executive authority to support those plans.
Ted Simons: Many people would say what she could do is become a champion for the cause and do something regarding budget cuts in this area, is that something you talked to her about?
Clarence Carter: I think it's disingenuous to suggest she's not been a champion. In the midst of tremendous -- a need for tremendous budget reduction, this governor stood very strong in putting on the brakes for some of those reductions in the child welfare system and the department of economic security. So to suggest she's not been a champion is just wrong. Ok? What she wanted to understand yesterday, are there other things that I can do to support your work in making things effective and what I promised her is to bring her office intimately involved so we can put those things before her. As far as putting those things before the public, what kind of changes are you looking at? The public right now has no confidence in CPS. You can tell. We're exhausted by this.
Ted Simons: Right.
Ted Simons: What do you do or say to let the public know something is being done and something concrete, tangible?
Clarence Carter: Ted, ok, one of the tangible things I can share is that we have tasked our system to do a specific review of every case in which there has been three or more engagements with the child welfare system and to monitor those on an ongoing basis. So that we know that at any given moment, that which needs to happen to ensure children are safe in those homes is happening. And -- and so the objective there is when we understand that there has been trouble in a particular family, then we should be Johnny on the spot to remediate.
Ted Simons: Last question. Many are suggesting this particular department needs an audit, at the very least to find out what's being spent and how and especially in the face of limited budget. Audit make sense to you?
Clarence Carter: An audit is a part of overall continuing business process improvement. So it's not simply a funding audit. DES and CPS has to, on an ongoing basis, audit its overall operation, to monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and we've created an office of accountability to do just that function.
Ted Simons: Ok. So the last question would be what are we going to see in terms of changes? And what are we going to see in terms of transparency from the office? Again, "The Arizona Republic" is trying to get records out of CPS and you hear all sort of arguments you can't do this, there's confidentiality. How do we know what's going on and we're not getting the information?
Clarence Carter: Ted, please understand that we are very cognizant because we share this, when a child dies, there is such a hew and cry for that to not happen. And everybody wants the doors wide open and figure out what went wrong. The law specifically proscribes what it is that the department of economic security can make public at what time and we adhere to that, not more and not less. And we understand that in the grind of bureaucracy, that all seems like just noise sometimes. But we have to abide by the -- by the rules in order to make the system function well. So what I will drive for, and this was the governor's charge, for the agency to be as transparent as law and regulation and policy allows. But even that transparency doesn't afford a 100% open view into everything that happens. There are issues of protecting those that we serve that the law very carefully protects.
Ted Simons: All right. Thank you so much for joining us tonight and we're looking forward to seeing some of these changes come into effect with CPS.
Clarence Carter: It's my pleasure being here with you.
Ted Simons: Thanks.
Clarence Carter: Thanks.